Mark Wood acknowledges extra scrutiny facing England bowlers

Wood acknowledges after day two of the first Test against West Indies in Antigua that it felt weird not to have Stuart Broad and James Anderson on hand.

Mark Wood celebrates with Dan Lawrence after dismissing Kraigg Brathwaite. After a West Indies mini collapse, England could not dislodge either Jason Holder (43) or Nkrumah Bonner (34), both unbeaten as West Indies advanced to 202 for four at stumps.   -  Getty Images

There was always going to be extra scrutiny of the England pace attack after the omission of veterans Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad for the West Indies tour, something that is not lost on Mark Wood and his team-mates.

Wood acknowledged after day two of the first Test in Antigua that it felt weird not to have the two stalwarts on hand.

“It's obviously going to be talked about, Anderson and Broad, because they are legends, but we just have to admit we didn't get it right to start with and we'll be out to get it right next time.”

He was referring to the early part of the West Indies innings, when openers Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell put on a quick 83, with Chris Woakes and Craig Overton in particular coming in for heavy punishment. With England defending a respectable 311-run first innings total, it belatedly got its execution right and the visiting team seemed poised to press home its advantage after picking up four quick scalps in North Sound.

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The pace quartet of Wood, Ben Stokes, Overton and Woakes all chipped in with one wicket apiece as West Indies slid to 123 for four, their batting fragility exposed not for the first time in recent years. Woakes was no doubt relieved to have Jermaine Blackwood caught at gully for 11 from an inside edge onto the pad that was initially given not out before being overturned after Joe Root opted to review.

He had come in for some heavy punishment and ended the day with 1 for 54 off 12 overs.

‘Good character’

Overton, who ended the day with 1 for 58 off 16 overs, also had his issues, though he got the initial breakthrough by having Campbell caught-behind from a gloved pull shot.

“The way we came back showed good character as a group,” Wood said.

But after a West Indies mini collapse, England could not dislodge either Jason Holder (43) or Nkrumah Bonner (34), both unbeaten as West Indies advanced to 202 for four at stumps. “Holder I thought played really well,” Wood said of the all-rounder whose skills translate brilliantly into all three formats of the sport.

“He’s a fantastic cricketer. He and Bonner sort of nullified that period when we got a bit of reverse swing. If we could have got a couple of wickets that would have put us in control.”

Wood confirmed that England's bowlers were focused on attacking the stumps, something that was not always evident in the recent Ashes series. “(Our) analyst has looked at stats in the West Indies and says that straighter lines are better,” Wood said.

On a flat (pitch) especially, where some keep low, you've got to bring the stumps into play so we tried setting straighter fields and bowling slightly straighter but when we got the length wrong we were punished.”

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