Pace is something special. And it is so rare for a player to have it. Mark Wood doesn’t look like a quick bowler but when he gets it right, he has pace any player would be jealous of.
In the recent Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean, he set the match in St Lucia alight with a series of spells of out and out quick stuff that delighted all those that were watching. There is no doubt that a fit and firing Wood is an automatic selection for England in all formats.
The issue has been that a fit Wood has been far rarer than one who is carrying a niggle. First it was persistent issues with his ankle which saw multiple operations. Once that was finally sorted it was his heel that started to be the problem. It seemed that he just couldn’t find any sort of luck.
What all of this has meant is that his workload has been very carefully managed. Wood made his England debut four years ago and he has only played in 58 matches across all formats. It is in ODIs where he has played the most games, 40 matches of that total.
His returns have not always lived up to the hype. While he has been occasionally devastating, he has found wickets hard to come by in international cricket. A total of 41 ODI wickets at an average of 45 is not the stuff that makes stats fans excited, but you always feel that Wood has match-winning spell in him, and it is bursting to get out.
England will play a minimum of nine matches at this World Cup, if all goes well, they will play 11. The chances of Wood making it through all of those matches is remote. But if England use him wisely, and he finds a couple of spells where it all clicks, he could well put England in the driving seat in a few of those matches.