Mark Wood finished with figures of 1 for 24 in the first ODI against Ireland at Bristol    Getty Images
Mark Wood finished with figures of 1 for 24 in the first ODI against Ireland at Bristol Getty Images

Bristol: Mark Wood said he thought his hopes of playing for England again “had gone” after he made a wicket-taking return to international duty against Ireland. The 27-year-old Durham fast bowler’s career has been beset by persistent injury problems caused by the strain he puts on his left ankle in his delivery stride. And when it was announced in October that he would need a third operation in 12 months, Wood feared his England career might be cut short. That made the sight of Wood clean bowling Ireland opener Paul Stirling middle stump with a delivery that then saw the ball speed to the boundary such a heartening one for player and country alike. Full Cricket Scorecard: England vs Ireland 2nd ODI at Lord’s

“It’s not something that I thought at times would happen over the winter,” Wood told reporters after returning figures of 1 for 24 in six overs in England’s 7-wicket One-Day International (ODI) win over Ireland at Bristol on Friday. All of Wood’s eight Tests to date came in his breakthrough year of 2015, with the Durham man taking the wicket that sealed England’s Ashes series victory over Australia at Trent Bridge. Wood was back in England action last year after his first two ankle operations to star in four ODIs against Pakistan, only for the pain and more surgery to once again interrupt his career. “I had questioned at times whether I would actually ever play for England again,” he said.

“After the first two operations, I always believed I would get back. But then this one, because [the recovery] didn’t happen at the same rate as it did previously, I was a little bit unsure if I would ever get back to the standard I wanted to set and the pace I wanted to bowl at. I felt I had sort of stood still for a year.” READ: ENG vs IRE, 1st ODI at Bristol: Morgan terms Rashid’s performance ‘magnificent’

Bowling for Durham restored the confidence of Wood, who jokingly said he was held together with Sellotape, with the paceman putting himself through some punishing fitness drills. “Before a day’s play, people tie elastic bands round my waist and I have to run in as if I am pulling them along,” explained Wood, who has also had his boot altered to protect his left ankle. “I would say [it’s the end of] major ankle trouble. I wouldn’t say it’s honestly ever going to be totally pain-free … it’s just going to flare up from time to time. “[But] I’m pretty confident now I could get through any sort of international cricket be it Test, one-day or Twenty20.” READ: William Porterfield backs Ireland as Test status comes close

England play Ireland in the second and final match of their one-day series at Lord’s on Sunday and Wood would have no complaints about another comprehensive win, even if it meant his own role was limited. “I just want to win,” he said. “If it means I only bowl five overs, I just want to win. “I’ve spent that much time off the field and seeing lads win and celebrating, and I have to watch from a TV screen. I just want to win and celebrate with the lads.”