MARK WOOD has stepped up his bid to prove he is the man to provide England the “X factor” they are looking for in the third Test against South Africa.
With James Anderson back home nursing a broken rib, the tourists are in need of a replacement and would dearly love it to be someone capable of topping 90mph and getting under the batsmen’s skin.
Wood and Jofra Archer tick that box but both men have question marks over their fitness.
Wood has not played competitively in the six months since England’s World Cup final win, and was named man-of-thematch in his last Test appearance almost a year ago, while Archer has been suffering soreness in his right elbow.
The pair have been hitting the nets over the past two days and it is Wood who has thrust himself to the fore for Thursday’s clash in Port Elizabeth.
Assistant coach Paul Collingwood said: “We have enough bowlers in and around the county circuit who can bowl at 82-85mph and try to nip it around. You want the likes of Wood and Archer to give you that X factor,” he said.
“Here at Port Elizabeth it’s generally a slower pitch so having that kind of X factor, if these guys are fit and raring to go at 100-percent intensity, it would be great to be able to call upon one of those bowlers.
“They have an opportunity over the next two training sessions to prove to us they should be the one in the team.”