Mark Wood wants ‘wickets and wins’ as England seek to save Ashes pride | Ashes 2021-22

Mark Wood has received plenty of praise for his wholehearted performance in the Ashes’ disheartening England campaign, but the quick pitcher is desperate to turn that fanfare into what matters: “wickets and wins”.

Australia have put Wood on the shine over the past few weeks, with their ability to repeatedly break the 90mph barrier and land vital punches for a team who have been mostly outclassed upon seeing their stock skyrocket.

His bare numbers tell only part of the story – eight wickets at 37.62 – but the identity of his victims does the rest. Wood has knocked out Marnus Labuschagne three times on 17 balls since becoming the world’s No.1 hitter in the men’s cricket test and also had the best of Steve Smith and David Warner.

However, Wood doesn’t just console himself with warm words from the experts and some magnanimous cheers from the local fans. When he lines up for the Series’ Final Test, a day-to-night match in Hobart on Friday, he’s looking for tangible rewards.

“Personally I’m happy with my effort, but when you play for England the effort should be taken for granted,” he said. “You should give everything you have every time. I gave 100%. It’s a last big push for me to try to keep my speed and give it to the team. It’s all well and good to play the games, but it’s the wins and the wickets that I’m looking for, so that’s my priority.

“I kept the pace, but didn’t get the wickets I really wanted. Now I have another chance in this game to put something in the correct column at the end. I want to raise my level of play and prove myself against the best players. It’s always special when you get big wickets – Smith, Warner, Marnus – they’re top players. “

When asked if he had achieved a “moral victory” by getting the best of his one-on-one with these main rivals, he replied: “Not really, because we were beaten. If I took those wickets and we won games I would say yes, but at the moment it’s not, so it’s important to turn the tide.

Sam Billings (left) is likely to make his test debut, while Chris Woakes (right) could feature, with Jack Leach (center) among those retiring. Photograph: Darren England / AAP

Wood turned 32 on Tuesday and, given the rigors of fast-paced bowling, he may well participate in his final ashes test outside over the next few days. If so, he will come away with frustrating memories and a desire to mend them when Australia host the Twenty20 World Cup in October and November.

He added: “I certainly don’t want to feel like I did in this series again, where I was disappointed in the dressing room. It’s not a nice place. So I will come to the Cup. World T20 to win and in this last test match we are also here to win We didn’t do very well this trip but we have a chance to stand up and show some character.

England are set to debut Kent wicket keeper Sam Billings, called up as cover for injured Jos Buttler, and are also set to recall Rory Burns in place of out-of-shape Haseeb Hameed.

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Ben Stokes is set to continue as a specialty hitter after battling side tension, with a decision to be made regarding Jonny Bairstow’s injured right thumb. He’s clearly uncomfortable, but has just stepped out of a fine century in the Sydney test and may be reluctant to give way. Ollie Pope stays ready if Bairstow is unable to take his place.

Ollie Robinson and Chris Woakes are set to return to the shoes of spinner Jack Leach and Jimmy Anderson, 39.

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