Ollie Robinson has offered a unique insight into England speedster Mark Wood’s dressing room antics and the sheer pace he says has rattled Australia.
England brought Wood into the squad for the third Test of this year’s Ashes, netting a five-wicket bag in the first innings.
Wood snagged two more wickets in the second innings, helping set up England for a successful run chase to win by three wickets.
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That’s kept the home side’s Ashes hopes alive heading into the fourth Test at 2-1 in favour of the visitors.
Wood has been named by England for selection ahead of the penultimate, must-win hit-out at Old Trafford.
And if Robinson’s view of the third Test is anything to go by, then England would be foolish to leave him out.
“Against pace like that, you pick up little quirks from batters that you don’t normally get, and as bowlers, I think we pick up on it more,” Robinson wrote in his Wisden column.
“There was one ball that Marnus (Labuschagne) played, and after it he had a sort of wry, awkward smile on his face.
“And he was trying to give off the persona that everything’s fine, when it’s really not, because someone’s bowling 95 miles per hour! You knew it was too quick for him after that.
“And even Uzzie (Usman Khawaja), who obviously plays pace really well and has been in such good form, even he struggled with the pace at times.
“He went from having this quiet persona at the crease to suddenly smiling and joking, trying to give off the feelgood vibes that he was fine.
“Every batter during that spell was doing the same thing. It was awkwardly fast and awkwardly uncomfortable, and as a batter you’re trying to convey that you’re fine when you’re really not.
“Us bowlers were saying that if we’d been batting out there, we might just have kicked our poles over…”
Wood snagged Khawaja in the first innings for just 13 runs before rolling through Australia’s tail.
England were criticised by its former captain Michel Vaughan for not bringing wood on earlier, given his tremendous pace.
Wood took the last four Australian wickets, who collectively made just 23 runs.
“Woody’s just got this mad, unique energy,” Robinson continued.
“There’s no one else like him. You think he’s drunk half the time yet he doesn’t touch a drop.
“Bear in mind this is a bloke who, 10 minutes before we went out, literally at 10:50am, was on all-fours barking on the changing room floor, going, “There’s a dog in the dressing room. There’s a dog in here, lads…”
“I’ve never seen a spell like Woody’s on that first morning,” he added.
“I was at mid-off to start with, and first few balls, I thought, “Jeez, that looks pretty quick…” He carried on through the over, finished the job, and then someone ran past me from slip and said that they were standing past my bowling mark, which is 22-and-a-half metres back!
“After the first over I went to fine leg, and I was standing no more than 15 yards behind Johnny, thinking, literally, ‘This is the fastest thing I’ve ever seen’. It was crazy.
“I felt like if they hit it more than a metre either side of me it was a certain boundary, and the fact he was consistently getting the shape and movement on it as well – at that speed – was just unbelievable bowling.
“It was just amazing to watch and be a part of. Though not so amazing for the batters, I’d imagine…”
The fourth Test between England and Australia gets underway on July 19 in Manchester.
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