Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting has observed that Mark Wood is the mixture of his former teammates Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee. Ponting felt Wood’s sheer pace and subtle movements with the ball were the biggest factors contributing to England’s victory at Headingley.
Wood rattled the Australians with his brute pace from the outset in the third Ashes Test at Leeds, clocking well over 90 mph. The 33-year-old also bowled plenty of short balls throughout his spell and collected seven wickets, including a fifer in the first innings, and won the Player of the Match award.
Speaking on an episode of the ICC Review, Ponting feels a bowler who can bowl fast along with movement is a trump card. He said:
“Wood) is a bit like him (Johnson) and a bit like Brett Lee in his prime I reckon as well. Bowling first change, bowling quickly, intimidating batsmen, getting a little bit of movement when it was there. He is just an absolute strike weapon. I think that the difference was there to see in Headingley.”
“I mean someone that can run in and bowl at that pace but he gets movement with the ball as well. His seam presentation, the way he releases the ball is outstanding for someone that’s running in and bowling as fast as he is.”
Despite being injury-prone, Wood has remained optimistic about playing the next two Ashes Tests. The Durham speedster has also warned Australia of unleashing more ”thunderbolts’ in the fourth Test, which gets underway on July 19 in Manchester.
“The biggest challenge is getting him through the next couple of games” – Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting highlighted that Mark Wood does have injury concerns and that he could be ineffective should he fails to hit that 90mph speed. He opined:
“I think the biggest challenge is getting him through the next couple of games. I know he said after Headingley that he got through I think three Test matches in a row in Australia in the last Ashes series and did it OK. The challenge for him is going to be if he keeps his pace at that sort of mid-90 miles an hour because they’re like those guys that you know he’s not overly tall, he’s quite skiddy and when they’re not at their absolute top pace-wise they can be quite easy to face.”
Nevertheless, the Tasmanian warned Australia that Wood can run through the tourists’ batting unit if he can maintain that pace.
“They don’t get steep bounce, they skid onto the bat and they don’t have a lot of movement, but if he can keep his pace up at the absolute top like it was at Leeds then he’s going to be really dangerous for the Aussies that’s for sure.”
The right-arm paceman currently has 97 scalps in 29 Tests at 29.69 with two fifers and could be England’s X-factor again at Old Trafford.