Mark Wood might not boast the powerlifter’s physique of Shannon Gabriel but he is confident he can bring the same raw pace to England’s bowling attack.
England need to find a new formula in St Lucia next week as they look to salvage some pride from a series that has seen them mercilessly thrashed in the first two Tests, and Wood is in contention for a recall.
The Durham man admits it would be “harsh” to change the bowlers when more fundamental problems exist in the batting, but with the West Indies seamers consistently quicker than England’s it is a valid point of discussion.
The strapping Trinidadian Gabriel has been the most menacing paceman on either side, with a fastest ball of almost 94mph, while none of the tourists have troubled the 90mph barrier.
“I haven’t got Shannon Gabriel’s muscles but maybe I could bowl as quick as him...I still think I can,” said Wood, who generates his pace from a slighter frame and with a skiddier trajectory.
“The one (ODI) game I played in Sri Lanka in October, the speed gun was high. You’d have to ask our batters, but it feels like it’s coming out alright.”
Asked to assess his chances of a 13th Test cap in Gros Islet on Saturday – the 12th having come last May – Wood said: “If you recognise we have missed pace and that’s an issue, I think I’ve got a chance.
“I think it’s very harsh to leave a bowler out when it’s the batting that’s failed but that always seems to be the case, doesn’t it? The batting’s not quite firing, so maybe we’ll change a bowler.
“Obviously the bowlers’ union and the batting union are slightly split at the minute.”
Wood flashes a knowing smile when he mentions the notion of tensions in the camp and is quick to reveal the opposite is true, with players of opposing disciplines teaming up after net sessions on this trip to share insights into each other’s game.
I spoke to Trevor at the end of the Sri Lanka tour and said that I wanted to be part of the red-ball Lions team in the UAE. He agreed and he wanted me to step up.Mark Wood
The 29-year-old has been a regular in the limited-overs squad over the past four years and, with a home World Cup around the corner, his hopes of a red-ball recall appeared to be receding. But a heart-to-heart with head coach Trevor Bayliss and an injury to Olly Stone nudged the door back open.
“I would never give up my hope of playing Test cricket,” said Wood.
“I spoke to Trevor at the end of the Sri Lanka tour and said that I wanted to be part of the red-ball Lions team in the UAE. He agreed and he wanted me to step up.
“He challenged me to go and show I was a step above the lads in the Lions and really set the bar high. In most of the games I feel I did that and proved I was an international-class bowler, which I wanted to do.
“There’s probably been times when I’ve been selected for what I could do rather than what I have done but I felt in the UAE I bowled particularly well. I feel like I’ve been picked on merit.”
Comment: Page 19