Mark Wood insists England’s one-day international series against Sri Lanka is of huge importance and that they will not be taking the beleaguered tourists lightly over the three games.
Test and T20 cricket dominate England’s impending calendar with a five-match Test series at home to India and an Ashes series in Australia sandwiching the autumn’s UAE-bound T20 World Cup
The next 50-over World Cup is not taking place until 2023 but paceman Wood says England will not lack intensity in the ODIs against Sri Lanka, which start at his home ground in Durham on Tuesday.
England vs Sri Lanka
June 29, 2021, 10:30am
Sri Lanka – swept 3-0 by England in the preceding T20 series and rolled for just 91 in Saturday’s final match at The Hampshire Bowl – announced on Monday that Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danuskha Gunathilaka had been sent home after breaching Covid rules.
“I have missed so much cricket that playing any format is special,” Wood said when asked how England are approaching the 50-over series.
“We have to make sure we are winning games as when it comes to that World Cup we could be in a pretty tough group. I know the other two formats are important but any England game is important.
“I have been surprised [at Sri Lanka’s struggles on the pitch]. When I was growing up, they had some of the greatest names in the game.
“They might be transitioning a little bit but they still have got some very good players. They beat us in the 2019 World Cup, a game we were heavy favourites for and lost, so we can’t drop the ball.
“They are definitely [providing a test]. I can tell you from bowling at them in the T20s that if I am off just a little then I have been hit for four and even a couple of sixes.
[Players being sent home] gives someone else an opportunity to come in and I’m sure the lads who weren’t originally going to play will be desperate to do well and prove a point. They have lost three games and will be desperate to put that right.”
Wood – who claimed three wickets across the first two T20 internationals in Cardiff before being rested for the final fixture in Southampton – says he is happy with his form and fitness, having also played back-to-back Test matches against New Zealand earlier this month.
“I have strung a few games together and in the Test matches I think I kept my pace up well. It’s good to see I’m playing and performing. Contributing to us winning games is what it’s all about,” said the 31-year-old.
“I have played back-to-back Tests against New Zealand and in Sri Lanka [in January] so for people who doubted that I think I have come a long way with the physical side.
“I am a bit more mature now and can say my body isn’t quite feeling right rather than pushing through it to play another game. I am in a good physical and mental space.”
Every time I come here I have a huge smile on my face, especially with England colours on. It’s a proud feeling coming back to the North East and seeing the ground. I absolutely love coming back. It’s lovely to be in the area and represent the region.
Mark Wood on playing at Durham
Wood’s 90mph-plus bowling could be a key asset when England look to regain the Ashes in Australia this winter, during a tour on which players may be unable to see their families.
England would need special dispensation from the Australian government for loved ones to join them due to the country’s strict Covid-19 protocols.
Wood added: “It would be very hard without your family for such a long period of time. With a young son at a part of his life that is very important to me it would be hard not seeing him. We just have to see how it turns out.
“You can’t help Covid times and that’s the way Australia are running things with their government. If that’s the way it is, we will have to see the decision down the line. Our players are all around a similar age with young families so it will be discussed and never taken lightly.
“The Ashes is a massive deal and we want to try and win so we don’t want any distractions. We want to be clear on what we are doing, whether it’s four months in a bubble or slightly different.”
Watch the first one-day international between England and Sri Lanka, from Durham, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Tuesday.
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