Mark Wood believes England have a fast-bowling attack at the World Cup that “ruffles feathers” and creates fear in the opposition.
Wood, who has sent down the fastest delivery of the tournament so far, is one of four England bowlers to have recorded bowling speeds of 90mph in and one of two to have recorded a speed of 95mph. As a result, he believes “opposition batsmen don’t get a break”.
“When real pace bowling is on show it definitely ruffles a few feathers and changes the momentum of the game,” Wood said. “It wasn’t long ago that everyone was looking round for quick bowlers while Australia had Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins. It is nice to have guys who will fear our team now.
“The opposition batsmen don’t get a break if there is pace from both ends. There is no respite from us. It is great that we can pose that threat.”
Wood admitted there is rivalry between him and Jofra Archer – the other England bowler to have hit 95mph – over who can bowl quicker, but insists it is friendly and positive. Wood has edged ahead, bowling a ball timed at 95.69mph/154kph against Bangladesh, though he concedes Archer appears to find it much easier to hit the high speeds.
“It is friendly competition, but with a point to it,” Wood said. “It pushes us for sure. You’re pushing each other to be the best you can be and to be as quick as you can be.
“I’m trying to bowl 0.1 mph quicker than Jofra and he’s trying to bowl 0.1 faster than me. When you come off the analyst says ‘oh, Jofra was quicker today’ and you think, right I’ve got to put the throttle down here, and then the next time he says ‘you were quickest’ you get a little buzz.
“But all the while though I’m thinking, ‘but Jofra’s just flicking his wrist and it is coming out like a rocket!’ I think there might be a bit more in the tank if he really wants it, I think he’s just toying with me at the minute. You have banter about it for sure, but you’re helping each other.
“Jof keeps saying that my speeds come up on the big screen and his don’t. I just tell him they are putting mine up to tell me to bowl a bit quicker to catch up to him. It is a good competition between us, a friendly one.
“Jofra helps me get wickets, too. In the past I was probably the guy that England were looking for to produce those speeds. Having Jof there takes a bit of pressure off.
“It’s exciting and frustrating because he makes it look so easy. I have to nearly break my back to get it as fast as him and he’s got no problems cranking it up. It looks like effortless pace and it surprises people how quick he is.”
Wood suggested there is a good chance that Friday’s match against West Indies will turn into a battle of the fast bowlers. Certainly the hostility of West Indies’ attack has been a feature of this World Cup to date and, with the Southampton surface expected to offer some bounce, Wood felt there may be a fair amount of short-pitched bowling on display.
“Could short-pitched bowling have a big role to play? I think so,” he said. “The pitch in Southampton tends to offer a bit of tennis-ball bounce so it would suggest that the back-of-a-length ball might be more successful than the full ball.
“The Windies in this World Cup have come with a clear game plan and that is a lot of short stuff. We got a taste of that on the recent Caribbean tour and one of the things we spoke about in St Lucia – when we were bowled out for 113 – was that the pitch had tennis-ball bounce and if we come up against it again we will play some smarter cricket. It will be interesting to see how we go about it as a batting group to combat that. We know what we are going to get.
“But I thought that in the West Indies they struggled with the short ball as well. I can remember getting Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer out to short balls so it is a good thing we can fight fire with fire.
“It is great coming up against the West Indies again because it is a team I’ve had success against. I hope they are worried about facing me and that I can get amongst them again.” (Cricinfo)