'Captain's not stupid!' - Wood ribs Root after skipper's four-wicket haul

By Sports Desk January 19, 2020

Mark Wood joked England captain Joe Root had pulled rank on the way to achieving his Test-best bowling figures on day four of the third Test against South Africa at St George's Park.

The tourists' skipper poached 4-31 after Wood struck twice as South Africa's sorry batsmen, following on after a first-innings morning collapse, slumped to 102-6 at stumps on Sunday - trailing by 188 runs.

Root's off-spin caused chaos, taking his lead from Dom Bess, who grabbed five wickets in the Proteas' first knock but had a supporting role second time around.

Wood, playing his first competitive match since England's Cricket World Cup final triumph over New Zealand last July, quipped that Root used his authority to take centre stage in Port Elizabeth.

"He bowled himself at the right end, didn't he!" the paceman said. "Put young Bessy on at the non-spinning end and he got the spinning end. So captain's not stupid is he!

"I feel like he does get key wickets when he bowls. He's been working on it a lot in the nets. As a group we're really pleased for him. Hopefully he gets the 'five-for' tomorrow."

Root had only taken four wickets in a match once before, a 4-5 haul in a winning cause for Yorkshire against Roses rivals Lancashire in 2018.

Wood, however, is no stranger to big performances with the ball, but spending another long spell out of action has been frustrating for the 30-year-old Durham paceman.

"I've waited quite a while to come back in," he said, after taking 2-23. "I'm trying to have fun, trying to play with a smile on my face and take it all in.

"Before the game I wasn't sure how it was going to go. I hadn't played any practice matches, I didn't have any of that match fitness. I was probably a little bit tired at the end of today but all in all I think I've stood up well physically."

Wood suffered his side injury with three balls remaining of his 10-over allocation in the World Cup final, which he called a "dream game".

"I didn't want to limp off after 9.3 overs," he said, stressing bowling on had been a risk worth taking. "I wouldn't swap that for the world. To be a World Cup winner, I'd take that any day of the week.

"Even if I didn't play another game of Test cricket, I've always got that to look back on with great memories and think that was the pinnacle of my career."

Related items

  • Man Utd boss Solskjaer confirms Rashford setback and casts doubt on Euros availability Man Utd boss Solskjaer confirms Rashford setback and casts doubt on Euros availability

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says it is "touch and go" if Marcus Rashford plays again for Manchester United this season and cast doubt on his availability for England at Euro 2020.

    Rashford has not featured for United since the FA Cup third-round replay against Wolves on January 15 due to a stress fracture in his back.

    Originally, Rashford was expected to miss around six weeks and it was hoped he may return to action around April.

    However, speaking prior to the Red Devils' Europa League clash at Club Brugge, Solskjaer said Rashford's injury was worse than first thought.

    "He had a scan and it was maybe more severe than what we hoped and expected. He felt fine a few days before that," he said.

    "I didn't know it takes that time to recover. When it heals he will be stronger for it so it's important we don't rush it.

    "I would hope he's playing again this season it will just be touch and go towards the end. 

    "Hopefully we can get through this tournament [Europa League] and prolong the season. 

    "It takes time, I'm not a doctor but obviously I was hoping he'd recover quicker than it actually looks like he's going to be out for, another few months definitely."

    England's first Euro 2020 fixture is against Croatia at Wembley on June 14 but, when asked if Rashford would be fit for the Three Lions, Solskjaer was non-committal. 

    "I would hope he plays before then but if he's not fit enough he won't go," he added.

    United made a move to replace Rashford in the short term with the loan signing of Odion Ighalo in the January transfer window.

    Solskjaer's Norwegian compatriot Erling Haaland was another tipped to move to Old Trafford before he opted to join Borussia Dortmund from Salzburg.

    Haaland has proven an instant hit at Signal Iduna Park, scoring 11 goals in just seven appearances, and Solskjaer is delighted to see the 19-year-old impressing.

    "I normally never comment but since I have had Erling I'm delighted for him," Solskjaer said of the striker he coached at Molde.

    "He's a top boy I want the best for and he's started fantastically for Dortmund. For Norway it's brilliant we have a striker who can score again."

  • Smith ready to 'play along and have fun' in face of South Africa hostility Smith ready to 'play along and have fun' in face of South Africa hostility

    Steve Smith plans to "play along and have fun" with South Africa fans who dish out hostility over an ill-fated 2018 tour that cost him the Australia captaincy.

    Smith and David Warner were suspended for a year and Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban for their part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal during the third Test against the Proteas almost two years ago.

    Both Smith and Warner are back in South Africa for Twenty20 International and ODI series', starting with a contest in the shortest format at the Wanderers on Friday.

    Former skipper Smith had to contend with plenty of jibes in England last year after serving his ban and is expecting more of the same over the coming weeks.

    "They are hostile at the best of times here," Smith told reporters on Wednesday. "It doesn't bother me too much.

    "Like [coach] Justin Langer said we had the dress rehearsal in England where there was a fair bit going on but I honestly don't notice it, particularly when I am batting. I don't really hear anything that's going on and I block it all out.

    "Maybe a little bit when I am fielding. But then again it's just words, it doesn't affect me. I think I will be doing some outfielding so I'm looking forward to it. I will smile and laugh and play along and have fun."

    Prolific batsman Smith may be braced for verbals while on the field, but revealed he has received a warm welcome off it.

    He added: "It's nice to be back playing in South Africa. The last time I was here things didn't end overly well, but I've also got really fond memories of playing here.

    "Just walking into the hotel in Sandton, initially I was like, ‘the last time I left here it wasn't pretty’. It wasn't the best time in my life. But I've moved on from that and learned a lot.

    "I've been back playing for a year now. I’m really enjoying it and I feel like I’m playing well. I'm in a nice place.

    "Everywhere I have been the people have been lovely. Guys have come up and taken some photos and been really nice.

    "It's been normal, the same as compared to when I've been here previously. It's a terrific place to tour and I'm glad to be back."

  • India captain Virat Kohli expects to play all formats for next three years India captain Virat Kohli expects to play all formats for next three years

    Virat Kohli is expecting to play all three forms of international cricket for the next three years, at which point he will re-evaluate his workload.

    The 31-year-old India captain, who is preparing to lead his side in the first of two Test matches against New Zealand on Friday, feels the topic of player workloads at the highest level of cricket is not going to go away.

    For Kohli, occasional breaks from India duty, such as when he was rested for the T20I matches against Bangladesh in November, are his best way of coping with what he feels are intense demands.

    "I think it's been eight or nine years that I have been playing almost 300 days a year with the travelling and practice sessions," Kohli told reporters before the opening Test in Wellington.

    "The intensity is right up there all the time, so it does take a toll on you. 

    "We do choose to take a lot more breaks individually even though the schedule might not allow you to. 

    "You are going to see a lot of that in the future from many players. Not just myself, especially from the guys who are playing all three formats. It's not that easy.

    "Periodic breaks for me seems to work pretty okay. At a time when the body doesn't respond as well, maybe when I am 34 or 35, you might have a different conversation at that stage. 

    "But, for the next two to three years, I have no issues at all. So the mindset is on the larger picture, and from that point, I am preparing myself for a rigorous three years from now."

    The responsibilities of being captain are an added pressure for Kohli, who is the world's highest ranked batsman in Test and ODI cricket.

    The 31-year-old added: "Being captain, having intensity in practice sessions and discussing the game, it does take a toll on you.

    "I can keep going on with the same intensity and I also understand that the team wants a lot of my contribution so that we can ease into another transition phase that we faced some five or six years ago."

    India have won the last five Test series they have played, though they come into the New Zealand games on the back of a mixed limited-overs slate.

    New Zealand triumphed 3-0 in the ODI series after India had stormed to a 5-0 victory in the T20Is between the two nations.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.