Sri Lanka v England – Healthy competition spurs on Mark Wood to seal World Cup spot

England's Mark Wood, pictured during a practice session in Sri Lanka. Picture: AP/Eranga Jayawardena
England's Mark Wood, pictured during a practice session in Sri Lanka. Picture: AP/Eranga Jayawardena
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Mark Wood realises the clock is ticking as he attempts to nail down a place in England’s World Cup plans.

Wood will return to the side for today’s fifth one-day international against Sri Lanka having been restricted to a watching brief as the tourists racked up an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Olly is a great lad and I like that he bowls rockets. He has spurred me on to get my spot back. It would be nice, one day, if we had a chance to bowl together.

Mark Wood

Newcomer Olly Stone has been preferred in each of the first four matches taking Wood’s status as the quickest bowler in the squad in the process, while Tom Curran has impressed with his variations in the last two.

With next summer’s home World Cup looming on the horizon competition for places is reaching fever pitch and it is increasingly apparent the selectors will be cutting players with a strong case rather than calling on those with a slender one as in previous tournaments.

So, while today’s encounter in Colombo represents a dead rubber for some for Wood it is a welcome chance to restate his credentials.

“We’re against the clock a little bit because everyone is vying for one or two spots,” said the Durham man.

“It’s been frustrating because I’ve not played, but I’m going to get a go now so it’s a chance I can push my case. Some of the net sessions have been pretty hairy as all the bowlers have been charging in.

“With a World Cup round the corner you do your best now or you’re not going to make it. It is good to have competition and I’m sure Morgy (captain Eoin Morgan) is absolutely licking his lips at the fact that there are all these lads charging in at training and everyone is trying to impress him.

“But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about it. If I don’t do well here I am one tour away from not making that World Cup squad. That’s something you build up for over four years since the last one, so it just means I’ve got to do the business.”

Wood makes no secret of the fact he has been crunching the numbers with an eye on the final 15-man squad, mentally inking in mainstays Liam Plunkett, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes.

“In my mind there’s one spot in the team between four or five of us. Plunkett is going to play: he’s been our best bowler for a while. Woakes has been ‘Mr Consistent’ for a while now, a great bowler, and he’s going to take the new ball.

“Stokesy balances the team, so you’ve got one spot between me, Tom Curran, Stoney, Sam Curran and David Willey.”

Despite the intensity of the battle for places Wood insists there is no room for resentment and has been cheering Stone’s progress on from the pavilion.

Wood said: “It’s good to have healthy competition without being all bitter or sour. That doesn’t help anyone. I want England to win.

“I’m an England fan. If I wasn’t in the squad I’d be watching and wanting us to win. Olly is a great lad and I like that he bowls rockets. He has spurred me on to get my spot back. It would be nice, one day, if we had a chance to bowl together.”