(Photo: Getty Images)
By Simon Sinclair
Mark Wood’s Champions Trophy performances highlighted his importance to the England set-up, and on his return to county action he made a statement to earn a Test spot against South Africa.
The 27-year-old last featured for the Test side in 2015, with a series of injuries ruling him out of contention. After missing England’s tours during the winter, Wood returned to fitness at the start of the 2017 campaign, but initially struggled to find his peak form.
However, he was called into the national squad for ODI matches against Ireland and South Africa where he built up his confidence, including a magical final over to deliver a series victory over the Proteas at the Ageas Bowl.
Wood said: “It has been a good year so far coming back, the first couple of games I was off the pace and my rhythm wasn’t quite there.
“It took the first couple of one day games for England to get my pace back up and my rhythm. I’m glad that’s behind me and I can kick on with the summer.”
Wood returned for Durham in the day/night Championship round with a five-for against Worcestershire in an already rain-affected match which was abandoned as a draw before the fourth day could start.
He claimed the new ball to lead his side’s response to being bowled out for 197, and struck in his second over to remove Daryl Mitchell by taking his outside edge before Jon Hastings provided him with his second scalp. Brett D’Oliveira and Joe Clarke stabilised the innings, but with the latter well set, Wood returned and broke the partnership by bowling the in-form batsman for 45.
Wood ended the visitors’ innings with the second new ball to notch the sixth five-wicket haul of his career, putting his name firmly in the minds of the England selectors.
He said: “I’m definitely feeling good and getting wickets is a great confidence boost. To bowl at D’Oliveira, (Moeen) Ali and Clarke is always a challenge.
“I was desperate to play in this game because my length in one-day cricket has been shorter. You don’t want to pitch it up too much to international-class batsmen because they’ll hurt you.
“So it was good to be in this game to try to challenge the top of the stumps – it’s nice to get a couple of bowled’s in there. My length was pretty good and I was happy with the way it came out.”
Result: Durham (197 all out) drew with Worcestershire (367 all out)