Mark Wood bends his back during the third Test between the West Indies and England in Saint Lucia. Picture:  Randy Brooks/AFP
Mark Wood bends his back during the third Test between the West Indies and England in Saint Lucia. Picture: Randy Brooks/AFP

Poms' secret weapon: ‘The fastest I’ve seen in years’

MARK Wood produced the fastest bowling I've seen for England for many years - and it sent a surge of excitement through the team.

Having someone hurtling the ball down at 95mph (150km plus) adds an extra dimension to any attack and there's no doubt some of the Windies batsmen looked distinctly shaken.

An out-and-out fast bowler is one of the great sights in cricket.

If Woody can use his first five-for England haul as a stepping stone, it is a thrilling prospect with the Ashes coming up this summer.

I was fielding at gully for some of Woody's spell in the first innings of the third Test and a drive by Shai Hope that flew to Rory Burns standing next to me was the fastest I've ever seen a ball come off the bat.

I cannot remember the last time we had someone who bowled at 95mph - you'd have to go back to Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, I reckon.

At that speed, batsmen are almost trying to premeditate where the ball will be - they feel like they don't have time to react or move. That's the difference between bowling in the mid-80s and the mid-90s.

Woody has endured so much frustration with injuries, but he's worked hard and reckons his body is in top shape.

He needs to be used wisely. He bowled an eight-over spell and took four wickets, which was maybe one or two overs too many.

If he is used in the right way - as a shock bowler in short bursts - he can be a real threat.

There's never a dull moment when Woody's around.

We couldn't shut him up for the next two hours after he took his five-for - the adrenaline was still pumping and he was so chuffed. It was great to see such a likeable bloke doing well

I lengthened my run-up during the Third Test because I felt I didn't have enough momentum at the crease, especially bowling into the wind.

It felt good, I took three wickets in my first four overs and may persevere with it.

Australia hasn’t faced express pace in quite a while.
Australia hasn’t faced express pace in quite a while.

It's not ideal changing something in the middle of a Test match but, after working on it in the nets, our bowling coach Chris Silverwood encouraged me to give it a go.

Even at the age of 36, I'm always looking at ways to improve.

My level of fitness is good but my speeds during the series were ordinary. I'd been between 78 and 83mph but I should be consistently at 83.

I was missing a bit of something and maybe I've found it.

Although we won the Third Test, it was a disappointing tour. We didn't turn up with the bat in the first two games.

In Sri Lanka, we were very clear in our plans on those spinning pitches.

If Jimmy says you’re good. You’re good.
If Jimmy says you’re good. You’re good.

But it took us too long in the Windies to adjust to conditions and suss out their bowling attack.

We've still won four out of six Tests this winter - that's a big improvement on our previous form overseas. We're definitely heading in the right direction.

Joe Root is doing an excellent job on and off the field. And he handled the situation with Shannon Gabriel brilliantly.

He got it just right with his response when he could be heard on the stump mic saying "There's nothing wrong with being gay".

The series was played in good spirit. We had a few beers with the Windies players after the game and Shannon was there chatting with us.

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was republished with permission

News Corp Australia


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