Outgoing England bowling coach, Ottis Gibson has put his faith in fast-bowler Mark Wood to emerge as one of England’s leading bowlers in coming days. With injuries plaguing his short career so far, Wood has not quite managed to make a big mark at the highest stage of the game.
Having battled to regain his Test place for the first time during the South Africa series since October 2015 after three ankle surgeries, Wood failed to make his chances count against the Proteas. He managed only one wicket in the two Tests before missing the last two due to another injury which forced him to remain on the sidelines for six weeks. Despite his constant struggles with injuries as well as with the red ball, Gibson believes the Durham bowler ‘is the one’.
“I really do think Mark Wood is the one,” Gibson said. “Obviously he’s had a horrendous time with injuries, but I went on a Lions tour with Mark about three years ago and saw him bowl pain free. And that’s when I said to Kevin Shine, the ECB’s lead fast bowling coach, that if we can keep him pain free he is our X factor bowler.
“But he’s not been able to stay pain-free, and I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of him,” he added.
Another bowler who has impressed Gibson is Olly Stone. The 23-year-old Warwickshire bowler impressed during the T20 Finals Day by constantly bowling at a good pace.
“I watched the T20 Blast this weekend and I saw Olly Stone,” Gibson said. “We knew of him before but he had a bad injury. So it was good to see him back on the field and it was really good to see him bowl 90mph on finals day.
“He was quick through the air, he bowled a good yorker, and he had some good slower balls as well, which shows he has a good understanding of what he’s trying to do,” he added.
With the upcoming third Test against Windies going to be his last before he joins South Africa as the head coach, Gibson heaped lavish praise on England’s pace spearhead’s James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
“To work with the two best bowlers in terms of wickets taken in the history of England cricket is unbelievable,” he said. “Anderson is very skilful. He knows how to bowl an outswinger and then an inswinger without much of a change in his action.
“He’s also open to new challenge. If I say go close to the stumps and bowl an inswinger or go wide of them and bowl and bowl an outswinger then he’s still curious about the game. If you’re curious, you continue to learn. He’s not a senior pro who is set in his ways and just wants to plod in drop it on a length. He still wants to develop new skills,” he said.
Talking about Broad, Gibson said:
“I have known Stuart Broad a long time. I played with him at Leicester. He saw how I operated then as a senior pro and I brought that to my coaching: make sure guys understand what they need to do to win matches with regards to tactical stuff and make sure they know what length to hit to ensure they are aiming for the top of off stump on this pitch.”
Meanwhile, the three-match series between England and Windies is currently locked at 1-1 with the visitors defeating the hosts by five wickets in the second Test at Headingley to level the series. The series-decider will be played from Thursday (September 7) at Lord’s.