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Wood looks to continue fine form in Windies tie

 

All smiles: Mark Wood shares a joke with Jonny Bairstow
All smiles: Mark Wood shares a joke with Jonny Bairstow

By Rory Dollard

England fast bowler Mark Wood expects to feel like a striker with his shooting boots on when he takes on the West Indies today.

Wood opened up a new chapter of his international career in February when he celebrated his recall to the Test side with some sizzling fast bowling in St Lucia.

His rapid five-wicket haul in the first innings won him man-of-the-match honours, after which he memorably described Windies batsman Shimron Hetmyer as having "two feet in the toilet" when facing his pace.

The Durham man will take happy memories of the tour into Friday's World Cup clash at the Hampshire Bowl and hopes the feel-good factor will drive him to more success.

"It's great coming up against the West Indies again because it is a team I've had success against," he said.

"It's like a goalscorer who is coming up against a team he's been scoring goals against in the past. I hope they are worried about facing me and that I can get amongst them again."

The game is shaping up to be a bouncer barrage, with the pitch lending itself to exaggerated lift and both teams boasting an aggressive attack.

The West Indies skittled Pakistan for 105 at Trent Bridge, the lowest total of the tournament, and did so by unleashing an array of head-high deliveries from the likes of Oshane Thomas, Andre Russell and Sheldon Cottrell.

With Wood now partnered by Barbados-born paceman Jofra Archer, and both having hit 95mph in the victory over Bangladesh, England are not likely to shrink from the battle.

"The Windies in this World Cup have come with a clear game plan and that is a lot of short stuff," he said.

"We got a taste of that in the Windies on the recent tour. But I can remember getting Darren Bravo and Hetmyer out to short balls, so it is a good thing we can fight fire with fire.

"It could be like that, just landing blow after blow, back and forth, back and forth. The opposition batsmen don't get a break if there is pace from both ends.

"When real pace bowling is on show it definitely ruffles a few feathers and changes the momentum of the game."

Speaking at the weekend, Archer nominated himself as the quickest bowler in the England ranks and expressed surprise when told Wood had crept ahead of him with a delivery of 95.6mph - the fastest ball of the tournament.

That head-to-head will continue throughout the competition, with the Durham man not minded to back down.

"It is a good competition between us, a friendly one," he said.

"It pushes us for sure. You're pushing each other to be the best you can be and to be as quick as you can be.

"I'm trying to bowl 0.1 mph quicker than Jofra and he's trying to bowl 0.1 faster than me."

Meanwhile, Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes bemoaned the lack of reserve days at the World Cup after a tournament-record third abandonment in five days.

The inclement weather in England and Wales is starting to become a major talking point after Bangladesh-Sri Lanka became the latest fixture to be rained off.

With rain continuing to fall at Bristol, and with no let-up in sight, a decision was taken to abandon the game without a ball being bowled, meaning both sides each took a point.

Rhodes (left) said: "We targeted this sort of game to get two points, and I know that Sri Lanka would have fought very hard and been no pushovers at all.

"But we do see it as one point lost and that's disappointing. But realistically, what can we do about it? Absolutely nothing.

"I know logistically it would have been difficult, but we have got a lot of time in between games, and if we have got to travel a day later, then so be it.

"We put men on the moon so why can't we have a reserve day, when actually this tournament is a long tournament?"

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