Abu Dhabi: England’s fast bowler Mark Wood doubts in the first Test against Pakistan.
Wood has been in the UK recovering from a hip injury sustained during England’s successful T20 World Cup campaign and will join the Test squad in Rawalpindi this weekend. Although injury kept the 32-year-old out of the semi-final against India, he was deemed fit to play in the final against Pakistan before it was decided not to risk selection for such a high-profile fixture.
His rehabilitation is said to be going well. However, with only three training days left before the series begins on December 1, it seems unlikely that he will be able to accumulate the necessary number of overs with an intensity high enough to prepare himself for the rigors of the Test match.
Wood returned to international duty for Pakistan during the T20Is after missing the summer of 2022 and showed just how important his pace is as a point difference, with six wickets at 7.33 in his two matches in the seven match series. He carried that form into the World Cup, with nine wicket runs at 12.00 in four matches, winning the fastest bowling runs and even bowling out the fastest delivery of the tournament – a full-on delivery at 154.74 km/h to New Zealand’s Glen Phillips.
Wood’s absence from the first leg in Abu Dhabi this winter, as the team prepare alongside the England Lions ahead of the first Test series in Pakistan in 17 years, has nothing to do with his injury. Both he and Yorkshire batsman Harry Brook were given two weeks at home after the World Cup to rest as they were the only players in all three first-team squads (Pakistan T20Is, World Cups, Pakistan Tests) before the end of the year.
Speaking on Friday after the final day of England’s warm-up match, which has been swapped for a two-hour training session, England captain Ben Stokes was optimistic about Wood’s fitness and said there would be no cover in the squad.
“No, we’re sticking with it,” said Stokes. We will not call another tailor for this collection.
“We made the decision to let Brooky and Woody spend that time at home, obviously because they’re in Pakistan and the World Cup,” said Stokes. “We felt a week at home for them would be more beneficial, just to recharge their batteries, and obviously with Woody’s injury, coming home and being around his wife and kid would be better than being here and having all his rehab, which he can do at home.” “We have allowed them to go home. I didn’t have much contact with them, just to let them calm down and relax. From all reports, Woody is coming in really well and we’ll see how he is when he gets out here.”
One of the additions to the original party of 15 was Rehan Ahmed. The leg-spinning allrounder was a part of the Lions, and was officially called up to the main squad on Wednesday. Director of cricket Rob Key revealed on Thursday that this was the intention all along.
It has been a huge display of faith for an 18-year-old with just three first-class matches to his name, but those at the ECB, especially performance manager Mo Popat, are convinced he is ready for the height.
Stokes clearly feels the same. When asked if he had any qualms about choosing Ahmed in this winter’s squad, he answered unequivocally: “No, absolutely not. That was one of the things where we said ‘yeah, we’re bringing him into the squad to give him that experience and get him involved.'” If it happened Anything and feel we want to choose, we definitely will.
“Obviously it’s not the final article yet, but we feel with someone like that – the way he sits, the way he hits – entering this environment will do him a world of good. Being around all the great players and working with the best coaches in the world, in my opinion It will only benefit him in the realm of good.
“I don’t think this should be seen as a great deal of pressure on his shoulders. I think it should be seen as a great opportunity for a young lad to come in, to be in that environment, to be able to work on his skills.
And then hopefully, who knows where the next two or three years will take him. We just wanted to bring him in and make him feel comfortable