Mark Wood’s injury-plagued career has suffered another massive setback, with the news that he will miss England’s Test tour of Sri Lanka after the re-occurrence of a left side strain.
Wood was England’s stand-out seamer on the recent tour of South Africa, claiming 12 wickets in his two appearances at Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. He was named Man of the Match for his career-best haul of 9 for 100 in England’s 191-run victory in the latter, which came in bursts of raw speed that consistently topped 90mph.
However, Wood came into the tour having not played competitively since sustaining another side strain during England’s World Cup final victory over New Zealand at Lord’s in July, and he might not even have featured at the Wanderers had it not been for Jofra Archer pulling out on the morning of the fourth Test with what was later diagnosed as a fractured elbow.
According to the ECB, Wood sustained this latest injury at the end of the South Africa tour – he also featured in the three-match T20I series, having rested during the ODIs – and after undergoing several scans in London, a small tear to his left side was confirmed.
He has been replaced on the Sri Lanka tour by the young Lancashire pace bowler, Saqib Mahmood, who will link up with the squad ahead of their departure for Sri Lanka on Monday.
Wood in the meantime will embark on another injury rehabilitation programme, working with England and Durham medical teams respectively, with his next goal being England’s home Test campaign against West Indies, which begins at The Oval on June 4.
He has had a terrible run of injury misfortune since making his Test debut in 2015, undergoing three ankle operations, and featuring in just 15 Tests in five years. His two Test appearances in South Africa were his first back-to-back Tests since July 2017.
Though a change to a longer, more rhythmic run-up has helped to take some of the strain off Wood’s body, the effort required to touch speeds that few English bowlers have ever matched is still palpable.
However, this latest setback means that there will be more questions asked of England’s management of their fast bowlers, with Archer also ruled out of the Sri Lanka tour, along with James Anderson, despite his recent insistence that the broken rib that ended his South Africa tour after two Tests is on the mend.
Joe Root, in particular, has come under criticism for his handling of England’s fast bowlers, with Archer bowling 42 overs for a solitary wicket on a flat deck at Mount Maunganui in November.
Archer himself, however, has defended his captain, in an extended interview with ESPNcricinfo, due to be aired next month.
“It’s not his fault I’m injured,” Archer said. “I’ve seen that said a lot actually. It’s not my fault, it’s not anyone’s fault. If everyone knew when they were going to get injured, then there wouldn’t be physiotherapists, there wouldn’t be any injuries really.
“I don’t like it when people get blamed wrongfully. It’s hard work being captain, being a relied-on batter as well, it all comes with its own pressures. I don’t think anyone needs additional pressures which will hamper them, and evidently, hamper the team.
“I always say you look out for who looks out for you, and I guess the team has a big part to play in that as well,” he added. “If everyone knows what they have to do, then he doesn’t have to repeat that and he can spend that time focussing his energy elsewhere. So it makes the team more efficient
“He is a good leader, and we’ve got a good bunch of boys who want to be led as well.”