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Mark Wood hopes lengthened run-up will lengthen his run in England ODI side

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Mark Wood hopes that a new lengthened run-up could be the secret to a sustained run of match fitness, as he prepares for the start of England’s five-match ODI series in Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Wood’s ability to generate sharp pace from a short and explosive run-up has been a key reason why he has been considered a point-of-difference bowler in recent seasons, but it has also contributed to a spate of injuries, not least in his troublesome left heel, on which he has undergone numerous bouts of surgery.

And now, with the World Cup looming next year, and his fitness restored after another interrupted summer, Wood hopes that a longer, smoother run-up could lead to a longer and smoother run in the England team.

“It’s something I’ve worked on in the second half of the season in England and brought it here,” Wood told Talksport. “It’s a trial, something I can go back to if I want to do the step-back run-up.

“I spoke to Kevin Shine, the head bowling coach, and Chris Silverwood, who’s out here, and said that off my short run-up I felt I was having to force it all the time. That meant I was putting more stress on than I needed to, having to ramp it up to get my top speed.

“So pushed my run-up back, so that it felt like I could cruise into it a little more and look for more rhythm, rather than trying to be at the top end all the time, and putting more stress on my body.”

Wood hasn’t had much of a chance to put any stress on his body just yet, however. England have faced monsoonal conditions since their arrival in Sri Lanka, and their planned two days of practice in Colombo was reduced to a single contest against a Board XI. It did at least give the bowlers an inkling of how the pitches might behave come the start of the series.

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“We’ve had a lot of rain so far. Some days are red hot, sweaty humid conditions, and quite nice to bowl in and there are some days when it’s rained a lot and it’s coming from the ground up. It’s different conditions to deal with.

“The pitch didn’t feel as subcontinental like as you might think,” he added. “It’s subtropical here in Sri Lanka, not like India or the UAE. It’s more humid and a lot greener than you might expect. The one-day wickets have had a bit of tennis-ball bounce and have swung a bit for England for three or four overs, so we have to use that to our advantage.”

Thanks to their plethora of allrounders, England’s one-day squad is packed with seam-bowling options, which means that Wood envisages being used in short, sharp bursts to conserve energy and mix up the modes of attack.

“It is ridiculously hot, so coming from a seam bowling point of view, it’ll be two or three overs, smash it as hard as you can, then get off. The spinners are the ones who are going to attack here, but that new ball is key for us. If we can get wickets up front when it’s doing a bit, that’ll be brilliant, but if not, we’ll sit in, try to dot up and make it hard, then let the spinners attack from the other end.”

Reverse swing is a traditional factor in Asian conditions, but Wood said that England may need to adapt their methods to obtain the contrast between the rough and smooth sides of the ball to unlock that particular weapon.

“Being quick through air will be key with reverse swing, but this ground at Dambulla looks lush and green, so I’m not sure how much reverse there’ll be. But the Sri Lankans tend to wet one side of the ball, and keep it smooth. They know better than anyone in their own conditions, so maybe we can take a leaf out of their book.”

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