Mark Wood, who produced a spell of fiery fast bowling to pick up a five-for in England's only Test win on tour of the Caribbean, promises to be an exciting addition to the team, veteran pacer James Anderson has said.
England lost the three-match series 2-1 to the hosts, but one of the positives was the performance of Wood, who was drafted in for the final Test in St Lucia. Hitting speeds as high as 94.6mph, he finished the Test with six wickets, including his maiden five-wicket haul.
Anderson, England's highest wicket-taker, was pleased with what Wood added to the pace attack. "Mark Wood produced the fastest bowling I’ve seen for England for many years – and it sent a surge of excitement through the team," he wrote in a column forThe Sun.
"I've had some horrible dark days ... I felt like today I've shown I am an England player."— ICC (@ICC) February 11, 2019
Mark Wood was emotional after his maiden five-wicket haul. #WIvENG
"Having someone hurtling the ball down at 95mph adds an extra dimension to any attack and there’s no doubt some of the Windies batsmen looked distinctly shaken."
After Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, England had missed someone who could bowl at such speeds, Anderson pointed out.
"I was fielding at gully for some of Woody’s spell in the first innings of the third Test and a drive by Shai Hope that flew to Rory Burns standing next to me was the fastest I’ve ever seen a ball come off the bat.
An out-and-out fast bowler is one of the great sights in cricket.
"An out-and-out fast bowler is one of the great sights in cricket," he went on. "If Woody can use his first five-for England haul as a stepping stone, it is a thrilling prospect with the Ashes coming up this summer."
Wood's rise has been interrupted by injuries throughout his career. Consistency will be his biggest challenge, and Anderson suggested using him in short bursts.
"If he is used in the right way – as a shock bowler in short bursts – he can be a real threat."