Australian cricketing great Ricky Ponting has heaped heavy praises on England pacer Mark Wood, who took a match-winning seven-wicket haul in third Ashes Test at Headingley, saying that he is a bit like Aussie pacer Mitchell Johnson and even Brett Lee “in his prime”. Ponting has been left amazed by Wood’s impact, which including a five-wicket haul in the first innings and a valuable total of 40 runs with the bat, laced with some quick fours and sixes.
Wood was backed by England to exploit his pace as much as possible, even at cost of leaking runs. The pacer justified England’s faith in him with his match-winning performance at Headingley which saw England stay alive in series by 2-1.
Wood’s ability to hit the 150 km/h mark consistently has caught the eyes of Ponting.
“Wood is a bit like him (Johnson) and a bit like Brett Lee in his prime I reckon as well,” Ponting said as quoted by ICC in the latest episode of ICC Review.
“Bowling first change, bowling quickly, intimidating batsmen, getting a little bit of movement when it was there. He is just an absolute strike weapon,” he added.
Ponting said that England have to use him in short, sharp spells to unsettle new batters at the crease. He also added that maintaining that same pace and fitness would be a challenge that both Wood and England will have to work their way around in the fourth Test.
“I think the biggest challenge is getting him through the next couple of games. I know he said after Headingley that he got through I think three Test matches in a row in Australia in the last Ashes series and did it OK,” he said.
“The challenge for him is going to be if he keeps his pace at that sort of mid-90 miles an hour because they are like those guys that you know he is not overly tall, he is quite skiddy and when they are not at their absolute top pace-wise they can be quite easy to face.”
“They do not get steep bounce, they skid onto the bat and they do not have a lot of movement, but if he can keep his pace up at the absolute top like it was at Leeds then he is going to be really dangerous for the Aussies that is for sure,” Ponting concluded his point.
Wood’s exhibition of express pace was his first appearance in the 2023 Ashes and he immediately made an impact by bundling out Aussies for 263 in the first innings and the hosts from then on stayed in the contest.
“I think that the difference was there to see in Headingley,” Ponting talked of Wood’s impact.
“I mean someone that can run in and bowl at that pace but he gets movement with the ball as well. His seam presentation, the way he releases the ball is outstanding for someone that is running in and bowling as fast as he is.”
“You look at the delivery that got (Usman) Khawaja, full just swinging back down the line at mid-90 miles an hour. If you have got someone like that you just have to play it, when they are physically fit and going, you have just got to keep playing them until they eventually run out of steam.”
“The impact he had on the game was absolutely first class and him and (Chris) Woakes I thought were the difference,” he concluded.
Speaking about England’s pace attack’s balance in the previous Test, Ponting said that he felt Josh Tongue would be retained, but also acknowledged the role played by Woakes.
Speaking about the balance of England’s pace attack in the last Test, Ponting said that he thought the hosts would retain Josh Tongue in the XI, but acknowledged the role Woakes played in the winning side.
“I thought they would stick with Tongue as well and bring Wood in,” the Australian shared.
“But I think it was a very good decision to bring Woakes and Wood into the side because Woakes obviously strengthens their batting and the conditions they probably felt they were going to get at Headingley suited Woakes down to the ground.”
“They had more sting in their bowling attack with Wood being there. Some of the stuff we saw him bowl, that was express. That is as quick as it gets, pushing 96 or 97 miles an hour. And it looked like he did unsettle some of the Australian top-order.”
“So, they will want to push him through now for the next couple of games. Great for him and England that they have got the long break going into Manchester because they need him up and firing again for the remainder of the series,” concluded Ponting.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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