England T20 hero Mark Wood opens up on the gruesome surgery that ended his six-month spell on the sidelines through injury – and teed up his blistering return to action against Pakistan
- Mark Wood describes the surgical procedure that helped fix his injured elbow
- Wood was unable to straighten his arm and needed surgery to solve the issue
- England star threw a 97-mile-per-hour bowl in England’s win over Pakistan
Mark Wood has revealed the gruesome-sounding surgical procedure that finally fixed his elbow and allowed England’s current fastest bowler to announce his return from a six-month absence with one of the quickest spells in history.
During a ferocious initial two-over burst of his first appearance since the first Test in the Caribbean in March, Wood matched the 97-mile-per-hour thunderbolt fellow Ashington native Steve Harmison produced during the 2006-07 Perth Ashes match.
He removed Thursday’s centurion Babar Azam for cents, contributed to Pakistan lurching out of the power play four wickets down and plunged them towards a 63-run smarting that means England head into this evening’s fourth and final Twenty20 at the National Stadium 2-1 up.
Mark Wood has revealed the gruesome surgery he needed to make sure he’s elbow was fixed
Despite the limited workload, the 32-year-old said his efforts during figures of 4-0-24-3 on Friday had left him feeling tired, but equally reassured that a second operation in July had solved a lingering issue from initial surgery in the spring.
Following a comeback in league cricket, Wood couldn’t straighten his right arm and with next month’s Twenty20 World Cup in mind, was soon in the presence of the specialist again.
‘I mentioned that I felt it more bowling away swing,’ Wood recalled, miming the movement of the elbow in such an act.
‘So when he knocked me out, he was turning my wrist and a ligament kept flapping into my joint all the time.
The England bowler threw a record-equalling 97-mile-per-hour ball against Pakistan on Friday
‘They took all the bits of bone fragment out of my arm but the main problem was this ligament that was trapped in my joint – that is why I was getting the pain. So, he cut the ligament off and since then it has been fine.’
England have certainly missed Wood’s pace. After Pakistan had levelled the seven-match series 24 hours earlier, stand-in captain Moeen Ali bemoaned the lack of bouncers from his attack.
The Durham man wasted no time in redressing that balance. Taking his lead from Haris Rauf, the bowler from the opposition he viewed as most similar to himself, he aimed for the middle of the pitch and allowed its natural variation to do the rest.
‘There were a couple of quick balls but I didn’t think I was bowling 95–96, so it was nice to hear that was the speed that came back,’ Wood said.
England stand-in captain Moeen Ali was pleased to see Mark Wood return to form for the side
Amongst English bowlers, he is an anomaly not just because of the velocity which he releases the ball: his record of 41 Test wickets at under 25 runs apiece overseas is a significant upgrade in his figures at home.
And having claimed man-of-the-match awards in away victories versus West Indies and South Africa, and won plaudits for last year’s Ashes displays, he is ready to graft here across three Tests this December.
‘If they want me, I’ll be ready to go,’ he added. ‘The Test performances have given me belief in all the formats because if you can do it at that level, I feel I can do it at any level. The ruthless nature of Test match cricket can also be transferred to T20.
‘I know it’s very different but in a Test match you’re in the spotlight for a long time and you’ve got to constantly be on it. There’s no place to hide because it’s on for so long. In T20, it’s very similar, it’s short and sharp, but they’re coming for you every ball, and you’ve got to be on it.’
Wood has praised England’s Harry Brook and compared him his style of play to AB de Villiers
One player Wood doesn’t have to worry about coming for him is team-mate Harry Brook, who marked his eighth international outing on Friday night with an astonishing 81 not out off 35 balls.
And for one aspect of his developing game, the 23-year-old Yorkshireman drew a favourable comparison from within the England dugout.
Wood said: ’I know it’s very early so this is a massive shout, but he reminds me of AB de Villiers, who would pick the field and say “this is what they’re going to bowl, so I’m going to hit it here.”
‘He has that, he almost knows what you’re going to bowl before you bowl it. So far he’s had all the answers.’