What is it like to bowl at 95mph? For Mark Wood, whose scorching return to England’s Test team sent everyone a bit gaga in St Lucia, the answer is wonderfully simple: “You almost feel like a superhero. I’ve been playing Mario Kart recently and yeah, it’s like when you get a magic mushroom and you’re just absolutely flying.”
It will come as little surprise to learn Wood is still glowing from victory in the third Test against West Indies and his maiden five-wicket haul. The 29-year-old sat down for a chat this week and, in that inimitable Ashington twang, his delight at finally becoming a match-winner shone through.
“I’ll never forget the feeling of that spell,” he said. “If I’m ever down about my bowling I’ll rewatch the highlights. I’ve watched them about 20 times already – probably more. This will sound bad but seeing it back I just thought: ‘Wow, that’s me.’ I couldn’t believe how well I bowled and how fast it looked on TV. I was so happy.”
Wood’s recall in St Lucia may have come too late for the series, with a resurgent West Indies side, led by Jason Holder, having already taken a 2-0 lead. But first-innings figures of five for 41 that propelled Joe Root’s side to a 232-run consolation win were more than just the numbers in the scorebook.
In his initial 19-ball burst before tea on the second day, one that dispatched Shai Hope, Roston Chase and Shimron Hetmyer, Wood ensured the clouded Test leg of this tour would end with a significant silver lining; his slippery pace, something many feared had been sliced away by three bouts of ankle surgery, was back.