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Mark Wood warns Australia to expect more 96mph thunderbolts: ‘Lightning strikes twice’

Wood’s ferocious five-fer earned him man of the match in the third Test as England kept the Ashes alive at Headingley

Mark Wood says he is ready to repeat his Headingley heroics, with the fast bowler insisting he can continue to rain fire on Australia to help England seal a famous come-from-behind Ashes series win.

Wood claimed the man-of-the-match award in Leeds as England kept their summer alive with a gripping three-wicket victory in the third Test that cut Australia’s lead to 2-1 with two to play.

The 33-year-old, who has a long history of injuries, made a dramatic entrance to the series when he unleashed an electrifying spell fast bowling on the first morning at Headingley, hitting 96.5 miles per hour on his way to a match-changing haul of five for 34.

And after carrying out captain Ben Stokes’ instructions to “bowl some thunderbolts” in spectacular style in Leeds, he is eager to carry on unsettling Australia’s batters in the final two Tests, starting at Old Trafford next week.

“Yes,” he said. “I did four [Tests] in Australia [in the winter of 2021-22], three of them were in a row. It’s a big ask, but one I’ve done before, and I will lean on that experience to try to do it again.

“Ben just asked ‘are you ready? Are you ready to bowl some thunderbolts?’ I said yes, and that was it.

“I know him well, and he knows me well. Having that relationship with someone makes it easier. He was ready to unleash us [me].”

Asked if he was ready to bowl more “thunderbolts” in Manchester when the fourth Test starts next Wednesday, Wood replied: “Absolutely. Lightning strikes twice, eh?”

Wood, who in Leeds was playing his first Test since December, was not fit enough to feature in the first two Ashes Tests after a diet of T20 cricket for much of the winter.

Asked how he will get himself ready for Old Trafford, he said: “Not sure, I will speak to the physio, but I imagine I will bowl once or twice, a couple of gym sessions, maybe some running but it won’t be too drastic.

“I have to let the body recover. It’s my first game in a very, very long time, especially in Test cricket. Off the back of bowling four overs, and I didn’t do too much of that either. I will let the body recover, get myself in a good space, let the wounds recover and get myself up for the next one.”

The Durham bowler’s contribution with the bat at Headingley was also spectacular, with Wood scoring 40 runs from 16 balls across both innings and hitting four sixes, including one late on the final day that edged England closer to their target of 251.

And he revealed why Australia’s predictable plan of bowling short to him worked in his favour as he nailed his hook shot four times to clear the rope.

“All I’ve done is practise bouncers for two weeks,” he said. “I haven’t practised anything pitched up, that’s genuine. Colly [assistant coach Paul Collingwood] has been slinging those yellow balls. They sting but don’t hurt. You get used to playing the shot, getting in strong positions, and waiting as much as I can to do well.”

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