November 10, 2021, Mark Wood last stepped on the field for England in the shortest format during the semi-final clash against New Zealand. Ever since then, the right-arm speedster has been plagued by injuries, including missing out on an entire home summer for the Three Lions. But he was finally deemed fit ahead of the seven-match T20I series against Pakistan.
Whilst none expected him to be slotted in the playing XI straightaway in the third T20I, the speedster’s return brought back the X-factor in England’s bowling unit. In his first spell after return, the pacer clocked around 96-97 mph, showing his fiery side in Karachi. His pace constantly troubled the Pakistani batters, with Wood ending with figures of 3/25.
But it is not the return that Wood deemed important but the game after the return. Following the win in the third T20I, the speedster insisted that the challenge now is to back his performance up further in the series.
"You tend to be a bit fresh after seven months out. It's been a long time, and I felt very tired at the end. I know it's only a T20, but it's all the intensity of international cricket. But I'll rest up and be good again, hopefully in the future. The challenge now is obviously to back it up. Can I keep those speeds going?" Wood told Sky Sports.
But Wood wasn’t quite satisfied with his return, insisting that he has plenty of work to do, during the remainder games of the series.
"I've got plenty to work on. Today was a good day, but you know what it's like when you haven't played for a while, the adrenaline's flying, it's like you're making your debut all over again. The crowd was flying. So the challenge for me is the next one, can I can I repeat that?"
In the absence of Jofra Archer, Wood perhaps will be the first name on the playing XI for England Down Under during the T20 World Cup. Wood reckoned that it is crucial for him to peak at the right time ahead of the World Cup.
"My body feels okay. I'll probably live on an ice machine now. We'll have a down day tomorrow, with not much on, and then get ready for the next game. I don't know what the selection is going to be for the next game, or after that.
“What's important for me is that I don't want to go too hard now and then I'm not ready for Australia. I've got to peak at the right time, and then when it comes to that World Cup, I'm fit and firing.”
On the group, the speedster insisted that the team looked at ways of improving themselves after the stunning loss in the second T20I at the hands of a masterful display from Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.
"I think it's fantastic. To be able to walk into a dressing-room, feel that freedom, speak your mind, it says a lot about the group, and culture of the group.
"The other night, rather than being critical, we looked at what we thought we could do better. We just said 'well played' to those two guys, but I think we realised that maybe we could have bowled a few more short balls, or gone round the wicket with the left-armers. Just little things could we have done differently. It's easy in hindsight, but that was the chat."