‘As long as the environment is safe… I’d be willing to do it’: England bowler Mark Wood opens up on prospect of six Tests in eight weeks behind closed doors this summer… as he admits squad are ‘desperate to get going’
- England could play six Tests in eight weeks at the Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford
- Fast bowler Mark Wood would be keen to return to action as long as it’s safe
- The World Cup winner praised the ECB’s communication over the schedule
- With government approval, England could play the West Indies as early as July 8
England’s cricketers are ready to spend two months this summer in lockdown together so they can return to action in back to back Test series against West Indies and Pakistan.
Even though some Premier League footballers have expressed concerns about ‘Project Restart’, there are fewer reservations within an England team who are prepared to play six Tests in eight weeks behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford.
Mark Wood, the England fast bowler who has produced the best form of his career over the last year or so in both red and white-ball cricket, says the players have ‘asked good questions’ about the safety of returning in July and have been given ‘good answers’.
England fast bowler Mark Wood admits the summer stint ‘would be hard’ but he is keen to play
England hope to play six Tests at only two venues with Old Trafford (pictured) deemed suitable
So, even though they would need government approval as well as clearance for West Indies and Pakistan to travel, England are set to fulfil the provisional schedule revealed in Sportsmail on Monday that sees the first Test beginning in Southampton on July 8.
‘I think everybody in the squad, as long as the conditions are right, would be willing to come back and play some cricket,’ said Wood on an ECB conference call.
‘We’re desperate to get going. I know it would be a long stint and it would be hard but it would be good to get back out there.’
The plan, which was put to the players by team director Ashley Giles and ECB head of medicine Nick Peirce, would see an enlarged England squad, possibly as big as 30 players, gathering at the Ageas Bowl towards the end of June for practice and a warm-up game between the squad before the first Test.
The Ageas Bowl (pictured) would stage three Tests behind closed doors in July and August
Then the group, with management, back-up staff, officials and broadcasters, would move on to Manchester for the last two Tests before the first Test against Pakistan at Old Trafford and the last two at the Ageas Bowl.
A three match one-day series against Ireland would be squeezed in between the two, with all three games at Old Trafford.
‘We had a chat with Ashley Giles and Nick Peirce around what the schedule could look like but it’s very much early days, with the government deciding what’s going to happen,’ said Wood.
‘As long as the environment, everyone else there, and my family are safe then I’d be willing to do it.’
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison warned this week that cricket would lose £380million if the season is completely lost to coronavirus, a figure that would go down to £100m if England are able to go ahead with a programme that would conclude with white-ball matches against Pakistan and Australia in September.
Wood praised the proposal and communication of England team director Ashley Giles
But Wood insists the players, who would be tested daily for the virus under the plan, have not been put under any pressure by the governing body.
‘The communication has been really good actually,’ said Wood.
‘I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t feel under any pressure. We’re all willing to get going as long as it’s safe. I know everybody’s desperate to play but the bigger picture is still what’s going on with key workers on the frontline.
‘At the moment there’s bigger things out there.’
Wood, a new father, likened the situation to England’s tour of Bangladesh three years ago when they travelled in the wake of terrorist attacks in Dhaka on the advice of highly regarded adviser Reg Dickason. Now the players place similar trust in Peirce.
‘I feel like we’ve asked questions that needed to be asked about families, when we can start playing again and if there’s an emergency at home can we get back and what’s the protocol,’ added the Durham bowler.
The World Cup winner is keen to return to action, though he is aware of the bigger picture
‘Nick is a good guy who’s been around a long time and he realises the bigger picture. He’s not going to put players and families at risk unnecessarily and we all have trust in him.
‘It’s similar to travelling to Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka this year. You get advice off the head of security and now we’re getting advice off the doctor and we are putting our faith in him.
‘We’ve asked good questions in the meetings we’ve had so far and we’re getting good answers.’