Mark Wood is not letting the constant speculation about Jofra Archer keep him up at night but admits the Sussex paceman will be a “world class” option for England.
Archer’s imminent availability has loomed large over the ongoing tour of the Caribbean, not only because he was born in Barbados and coveted by the West Indies but also because of the proximity to this summer’s World Cup.
Despite his limited experience in 50-over cricket, the 23-year-old’s star status on the global Twenty20 circuit and exciting brand of quick bowling have led a string of pundits to call for his inclusion in England’s squad for the tournament.
He will only become eligible under the England and Wales Cricket Board’s revised residency rules next month and with squads due to be finalised by April 23, his inclusion would come before he had even taken the field for Eoin Morgan’s side.
That leaves it up to the likes of Wood, Tom Curran and David Willey to make themselves undroppable in the last three matches of a series currently tied at 1-1.
“I think I am one of the guys under threat, but I wouldn’t say that night and day I’m up worried about Archer’s role,” said Wood after a 26-run defeat levelled the series in Bridgetown.
“It is not really talked about in the dressing room or anything like that. But he is a world class player and I’d be stupid to think that if I didn’t put in the hard yards that my place wouldn’t be up for grabs, because he bowls quick as well.
“They (the selectors) pretty much know everybody – Tom, David, myself – it is a pretty cemented group we’ve got even without the likes of Sam Curran and Olly Stone, so we’ll just have to wait and see what they do.
“I’m just going to continue with this bit of confidence I’ve got and some half decent form to push my own case.”
Wood’s nod to ‘half decent form’ is an act of typical understatement from a player who has often worn his self-doubt more openly than most in his profession.
In fact, the 29-year-old quick appears to be in the midst of a dramatic renaissance. He turned in a man-of-the-match performance on his Test recall in St Lucia earlier this month, including the fastest spell by an Englishman in at least a decade, and impressed with the new ball in the double header of one-day internationals in Bridgetown.
He returned figures of one for 38 from 10 overs in a losing cause on Friday, but impressed with his pace, control and ability to find reverse swing at the death. If Archer does gatecrash the World Cup squad it will surely be as a team-mate of Wood rather than a replacement for him.
“When I came off the field and the guys said it was sharp, that was good to hear,” he said.
“The killer moment was when the ball started reversing. That is the game changer. It is all well and good bowling quick but if it doesn’t move then batters these days are pretty good and can put you away.
“All trip I’ve felt in good rhythm, and even before the Test I felt in good nick, so I just hope I can get a few more wickets while I’m in good shape.”
England rested their most trusted one-day seamer, Chris Woakes, on Friday but moved to allay any fears of his fitness.
He was not considered throughout the Test tour due to an ongoing knee problem, but Morgan expects him to be fully ready come the summer.
“We’re not pushing him to play two games in three days because down the line at the World Cup he won’t have to do that,” he said.
“He could have played but his risk of being injured would have been quite high. The World Cup is a completely different kettle of fish and we expect him to be fit for that.”