Mark Wood has said helping England to a series victory in South Africa would make up for years of injury heartbreak after he starred with both bat and ball to move Joe Root’s team into a dominant position on day two of the fourth Test.
The 30-year-old fast bowler struck a quickfire unbeaten 35 with the bat to help the tourists to 400 in their first innings before taking three for 21 with the ball as South Africa stumbled to the close on 88 for six.
Wood was playing in his second Test match in 11 months – and his first back-to-back since his debut summer of 2015 – after a succession of fitness problems that have included knee and side injuries that ruled him out of last summer’s Ashes series, plus three major ankle operations earlier in his career.
Wood said: “I want to affect games of cricket for England, it would mean a hell of a lot to me. It’s something you aspire to do, affect games. It was nice to get some runs and get some catches in the last game – I know my main suit is my bowling but I like to affect the game in other ways as well.
“To be able to win a series away from home against a quality opposition would be especially pleasing for me after coming through some hard times.”
England had started the day with the news that Wood’s Durham teammate, Ben Stokes, had escaped a ban for swearing at a fan on the opening day of this match after accepting a level one charge for an “audible obscenity” on Friday. The England vice-captain reacted to provocation – including a derogatory reference to the singer Ed Sheeran – from a middle-aged fan wearing a South Africa one-day shirt.
Stokes went on to dismiss the South Africa opener Dean Elgar and take two catches. But he was overshadowed by the efforts of Wood, whose opening wicket of Pieter Malan was taken with a delivery registered at 94.4mph.
“When that wicket fell it was especially pleasing,” said Wood. “I just tried bring a little bit of energy, something a bit different and tried to create a different atmosphere and a different feel to the game.”
Wood also revealed he had worked on his batting during his injury absence in the second half of the summer, when he was fed balls from a bowling machine by his wife, Sarah, and father, Derek, at an indoor centre in Newcastle.
“I knew we were coming here and it was a bit bouncy, so I was working on how I thought they’d attack me – either at the stumps or at my head. I’ve done quite a lot of work. It means I’m going to go out there thinking I can deliver.”