BIRMINGHAM: Mark Wood is revelling in the role of being the man England captain Eoin Morgan turns to when the hosts need a wicket at the Champions Trophy.
Wood’s one-day international best four for 33 in England’s concluding group win over Australia, which saw them knock out their arch rivals, included the prize scalps of Aussie skipper Steven Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell at Edgbaston on Saturday.
This tournament also saw him remove New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, one of the world’s best batsmen, with a brilliant delivery in unbeaten England’s win over the Black Caps in Cardiff.
“It’s a nice feeling to have the confidence of the captain,” said Wood ahead of England’s semi-final against Pakistan in Cardiff on Wednesday.
“I don’t know if it makes me try a little bit harder, but at the moment I seem to be getting some of the best players out. It’s a nice knack to have.”
The 27-year-old Durham quick, fit following persistent ankle trouble, said Morgan’s backing had been a huge confidence boost.
“You feel like the captain really needs you and you want to be the man who changes the game — and that’s what I’ve tried to do.
“You lift up, push your shoulders back, puff your chest out a little bit.”
England have won 11 of their last 12 one-day internationals, with Wood’s Durham team-mate Ben Stokes hitting a thrilling 102 not out against Australia after the home side had slumped to 35 for three.
“It’s fantastic – we’ve got one hell of a team, and I absolutely love being part of it,” said Wood.
“When we were three wickets down, I thought I would have to get the pads on again like I’d done in the previous game.”
Stokes received superb support from Morgan (87) in a match-changing stand and Wood added: “When we went back out after the rain delay and Morgs hit the first ball for four, everyone just thought, ‘Here we go, let’s fight fire with fire’ — I don’t know if Australia were expecting that.
“It was a fantastic partnership from two real leaders in the team – Morgs is obviously our captain, but Stokesey is a real leader in the way he carries himself and drags everyone else along with him.”
Meanwhile Wood was delighted that he and Stokes were flying the flag for northeast county Durham.
“It’s great the north-east lads are the ones carrying the team at the minute,” he said with a broad grin.