Mark Wood: England’s ‘smiling assassin’ says coronavirus break won’t affect his cricket

England’s “smiling assassin” Mark Wood does not fear the coronavirus-enforced break from cricket will dent his electric form having been re-energised by coach Chris Silverwood.

The paceman – whose England career has been plagued by injury – picked up 12 wickets in the final two Tests in South Africa this winter as the tourists went on to record a 3-1 victory and hand Silverwood his first Test series win in charge since he succeeded Trevor Bayliss in October.

Wood would have missed the ultimately postponed March series in Sri Lanka with a side strain but is confident of a successful return once cricket is allowed to resume after the pandemic.

“I want to get back out there because the last time I played Test cricket it went really well. I felt in good rhythm and I have felt in good rhythm and good form for England for a while,” said Wood.

“There is always that little fear as a top sportsperson that you could lose your spot or that edge or ability but I try to be professional off the field – eat well, drink well. Looking after those one per centers certainly helps.

“I don’t feel like it would take me that long [to get going]. I have managed to maintain a level of fitness while being at home with running and weights – keeping myself ticking over and trying to strengthen my side.

“I hope the time off has helped. I’m not saying I’m Jimmy Anderson, who gets into his groove nice and easy and seems to be a magician where he can just rock up and hit the top of off stump, but I have had experiences where I have had long periods off and come back determined to be better.

“I’ve been injured mid-season and then had to pick up the pace quickly and get back into the swing of things. I am confident I can do that again.

No one saw this coming but it has been nice to see my son develop and dive into family life, which you don’t get to do too often being on the road a lot. I have mentally enjoyed not thinking about cricket training but as soon as cricket starts again I can dive back mentally into that.

Mark Wood on his time at home

“The philosophy of Silverwood of trying to enjoy it brings out the best in me. I have really enjoyed that relaxed atmosphere. He has told me to have as much fun as I can do, be that smiling assassin when I’m bowling.

“It was something I spoke about with Kevin Shine when I went away with the Lions – my cricket had stood still for a bit and he told me what I was like when he first saw me.

“I had a meeting with Spoons [Silverwood] about it and he summed it up perfectly and said ‘I want you to be the smiling assassin’. That stuck in my mind and is something that I think fits well.”

England’s June Test series against West Indies has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the ECB confirming there would be no cricket until at least July 1.

A report in the Guardian said England players may face nine weeks away from their families later in the summer in order to get the series against West Indies and Pakistan played, with July 8 a possible start date.

Wood – like team-mate Chris Woakes a few weeks ago – said he would accept if it was safe for cricket to be staged.

“It would be a long stint and it would be hard but we are on tour for long periods of time so we are used to it,” said the 30-year-old about potentially being parted from family.

“The meetings have been positive and we [the players] have asked good questions – such as if we start a game and there is an emergency at home, can we get back – and I think we are getting good answers.

“We had a chat last week with [managing director of England cricket] Ashley Giles and [ECB chief medical officer] Nick Peirce about what the schedule could look like.

“We trust what Ashley and the doctor are saying and if an environment is set up where it works then I think most players would trust that.

“We are all willing as long as the environment and everybody – people working at the ground, management, cameramen – is safe.

“Everyone is desperate to get going and it would be good to get out there but the bigger picture is what is going on on the front line.”

Wood expects England’s players to be able to cope with a lot of games in a short period but believes rotation will be key.

He added: “I don’t see it being a problem. These are international cricketers, lads at the top end of the sport with good skills who are highly motivated. We have so many good coaches, good facilities and are looked after so well that we will be as well prepared as we can be.

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