Mark Wood injury: why England bowler isn’t in second Ashes Test match - is he faster than Jofra Archer?

Josh Tongue was picked over Chris Woakes and Mark Wood for Lord’s Test match
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England are playing their second Test match against Australia in the 2023 Ashes series. They responded to Australia’s 416 by scoring 325 and are now struggling to find the wickets as the visitors press on with their lead.

Steve Smith scored his first century of the Ashes series while England’s Ben Duckett was dismissed on 98 - and such has been England’s luck. However, Australia suffered their own heart-break when it was confirmed that their key spinner, Nathan Lyon, was diagnosed with a “significant calf strain” and is now likely to be out for the majority of the remaining fixtures.

Speaking about his teammate, centurion Smith said: “Nath’s not doing too well, so I think we’ll struggle to see him out there.”

But while Australia focus on who is likely to replace their key spinner, who is on 496 Test wickets, England may ponder on their own bowling options as they grapple to take down their opponents.

The only change England made following their two-wicket defeat in Birmingham was to bring in Joshua Tongue over the blister-suffering Moeen Ali. This decision did, however, lead many to ponder why Mark Wood was not picked.

Here is all you need to know about Mark Wood...

Mark Wood during a nets session at Lord’s ahead of second Ashes Test matchMark Wood during a nets session at Lord’s ahead of second Ashes Test match
Mark Wood during a nets session at Lord’s ahead of second Ashes Test match

Why wasn’t Mark Wood picked?

Mark Wood is arguably England’s fastest bowler. He has suffered a plethora of injuries throughout his career and his fitness was the major concern for choosing 2023 Test debutant Tongue over the Durham bowler. Wood, 33, has 90 wickets from 28 Test matches at an average of 20.88 and his best figures are 6/37 which came in Hobart in the 2021/22 Ashes series.

England captain Ben Stokes informed the media that he had ‘wanted to play Mark Wood’ at Lord’s: “We felt that he could definitely start the game but with conversations, we felt the extra week with build-up and getting his loads up would give him a better chance and an opportunity to play a full part from Leeds onwards. We brought Tonguey into the team as a like-for-like with Woody.”

Stokes also noted that England were keen that the Durham quick regain his fitness before Headingley: “He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to give what he’s known for throughout this Test match. So the decision was made to allow him to keep building his body up to give himself the best opportunity to go out, from Leeds onwards, to play a full part.”

How fast can Mark Wood bowl?

Mark Wood’s fastest ball came during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup tournament in December. During one of his fastest overs ever, in which he averaged 153kmph (95mph) he clocked 156.6kmph (97.3mph). Wood’s spell also registered as the fastest spell in T20 cricket.

Wood’s fastest ball in Test cricket came in the seventh over of the first innings of the second Test match against Pakistan in 2022. He clocked 156kmph (97mph) and he now sits within the top ten of the fastest deliveries of all time - a list that is lead by Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar who clocked 100.2mph during the ICC World Cup in 2003.

Wood is faster than England’s other known paceman Jofra Archer who has registered a high speed of 95.1mph. Archer has been suffering from several recurrances of elbow strains, placing him out of action for over two years. He briefly returned for the start of the IPL and a T20 match against Bangladesh but has since had to return to the sidelines.

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