Indeed, Steve Harmison the former Durham and England fast bowler who is Wood’s mentor and comes from the same village of Ashington, said Wood was “always pencilled in to play the PE Test because of his reverse-swing” during a Q and A session with Telegraph readers during the second Test in Cape Town.
Wood has not played a competitive game since the World Cup final when he limped off after a hostile ten-over spell but has built up his speed and stamina in South Africa over the last month. England’s coaching staff are understood to have been highly impressed by Wood’s attitude, particularly in the last two net-sessions at St George’s Park.
Wood has therefore leapfrogged over Archer who played in the first Test at Centurion, and took six expensive wickets, before injuring his right elbow. According to Paul Collingwood, England’s assistant coach, the management have tried to find Wood a game to play in on this tour but it has not been possible.
“Ideally you’d love Woody to go out and get some competitive games in,” Collingwood said. “But I’ve got no qualms he could come in this week and be successful because of what he’s done in the past (36 wickets at 37 runs each in 13 Tests), what he can draw upon. He’s got the skills to go out there and make an impact.”
Chris Woakes is another pace bowler in contention for Anderson’s place, and is the closest to a like-for-like replacement as an outswing bowler, but local conditions are working against him.
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