Luke Wood hoping to become ‘better player’ on England duty

The left-arm paceman made his T20 and ODI debuts this autumn

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Luke Wood feels he has made significant strides in the past couple of months with England while his appetite has been whetted by witnessing their T20 World Cup triumph at close quarters.

The left-arm fast bowler first came up on the England radar at the start of the year and has pushed himself on to the fringes of both limited-overs formats, making his T20 and ODI debuts this autumn.

He was also hastily drafted in as a travelling reserve for the World Cup, with Tymal Mills bumped up to the main squad after injury cruelly struck down Reece Topley days before England’s tournament opener.

While he played no part in the campaign, Wood believes practicing alongside the country’s top white-ball stars and watching what went into winning the T20 crown last week has made him a better cricketer.

“Seeing the lads go out in the World Cup final, I don’t necessarily think I needed much more appetite for it but any chance you get to be around it definitely gives you a big appetite for it,” he said.

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“That’s what you dream about as a kid: going to a World Cup. I know I didn’t have a playing role, but being around that whole stage and being involved with the lads was brilliant.

“At the start of the year I wouldn’t have necessarily expected it, it is a little bit surreal, really.

“I feel already like I’ve improved as I’m going along. Being involved in this sort of environment, the longer you’re in it, it’s bound to make you a better player.”

While he was not part of the 15-strong squad that went all the way at the World Cup, Wood, alongside fellow back-ups Liam Dawson and Richard Gleeson, were awarded winners’ medals after the final.

“I wasn’t really expecting it,” he said. “I didn’t really think the reserves would get a medal but we did. We got a picture we all signed and I got my shirt signed. They’re quite nice mementos for it all.”

Wood came in for his maiden ODI in the series-opening six-wicket loss against Australia at Adelaide on Thursday, with England fielding a largely second-string XI four days on from the World Cup final.

Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were all rested, which allowed several non-regulars to push their case including Wood, who was full of energy but went wicketless in 10 overs.

Presented his ODI cap earlier in the day by friend and Lancashire team-mate Phil Salt, something Wood says was a “pretty special moment”, the 27-year-old made just his fifth List A appearance.

As Wood himself acknowledged, his involvement in The Hundred limits his chances to feature in the One-Day Cup, with the two competitions running concurrently in the English summer.

But he feels he took some important lessons from Australia’s batters – with David Warner, Travis Head and Steve Smith all making fifties – ahead of Saturday’s second ODI at Sydney.

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“You have to be at your best and it’s very ruthless, you can’t give too much away,” Wood added.

“There’s no sort of easing into it. It’s a case of ‘here’s what you’ve got to do, go and do it and if you don’t, you’ll get banged’.”

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