Mark Wood overcame a “rough night” with a stomach illness to deliver his now customary 90mph-plus speeds and a precious breakthrough at the end of a stop-start opening day to the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney.
For the second time in two innings, and in near identical fashion to the third Test in Melbourne, Wood got the better of Marnus Labuschagne when the world’s No 1 ranked batter edged behind for 28 to a ball that moved away from back of a length.
“I had a bit of a rough night but I managed to keep just enough energy for the day,” Wood revealed after stumps. “I had a bit of a stomach problem but I’m hoping that with a good night’s rest and some food inside me I’ll be right as rain.
“I’m delighted to get Marnus because he’s a top player. I know we’ve had this ‘bowl fuller thing’ but I think we have to hit the wicket hard and make them play as much as we can. Thankfully I made Marnus play, it wasn’t an easy ball to leave, and he managed to edge it.”
Despite illness and fatigue, Wood was typically happy to play along with the notion that his battle with Labuschagne could become a similar Ashes rivalry to that of David Warner and Stuart Broad after their earlier duel swung back to the Englishman when claiming the opener’s wicket for the 13th time in Test cricket.
“I’d love to have a Broad v Warner thing with him,” Wood said. “Anybody would love that when they think they’ve got a chance to get someone out. The ball before, Marnus hit me for four so I just tried to zone in a bit more. I knew the ball before was loose but I got this one spot on.
“You want to test yourself against the best players. I’ve been a bit frustrated in that I’ve felt in good rhythm and have been bowling well in this series without getting the wickets I would have liked but to get big players like that out makes you very happy.”
Warner, who has previously had the better of Broad during their encounters on Australian soil and contributed to the current 3-0 scoreline with scores of 94 and 95, became the latest home player to express surprise that his old nemesis missed out on the seaming pitches in Brisbane and Melbourne.
“I really enjoy giving you guys a good story, which is fantastic and it builds up the game,” said Warner, reflecting on his earlier score of 30. “Me and Broady love it when we’re out there. It’s good fun, good funny banter. I tried to drive the ball too straight, that was my disappointment, but it’s awesome to see Broady back out there.
“He’s a world-class bowler. Him and Jimmy Anderson bowling at us is great. Obviously, they would have been disappointed with some of these Test matches, not playing together, but that’s for their selection panel. It’s great to come up against the world’s best from England.”