CHRIS Wood will keep it simple if he has another chance to bowl Hampshire to T20 glory tonight.
Wood (left) was the final-over hero when Hampshire won their last T20 title in 2012, when he took three wickets in a thrilling climax against Yorkshire at Cardiff’s Swalec Stadium In Kyle Abbott’s absence, he is again likely to have the pressure of bowling at the death at Finals Day.
It is a role the left-armer relishes.
“You can’t hide away from it, if you do you’re on a hiding to nothing, so you have to embrace it, take it on and practise as hard as you can,” he said.
“I try to keep it simple. A few years ago we looked at it, people were trying to bowl all these different balls but keeping it simple is very under rated.
“So I don’t have too many variations, I’ve got the yorker at the end and a couple of slower balls. “I’ve tried to perfect that yorker, it doesn’t happen every game but I’m not sure there’s anyone in world cricket who can bowl a yorker six times out of six.
“But the more you can do it the better chance you have of coming out on top.”
Wood believes he is an even more effective T20 bowler for playing alongside Abbott for most of the season. “His death bowling’s been up there with some of the best I’ve seen in world cricket, he’s world class so was good to talk to and watch bowl – hopefully I can fill his role,” he added.
The 24-year-old will be playing at his fourth Finals Day today and is one of six players who helped Hampshire win the domestic T20 tournament in 2010 and 2012 trying to complete a hat-trick of triumphs this evening.
After taking a career-best 5-39 and hitting an 85-ball 61 as Abbott’s replacement in last week’s LV County Championship win against Kent – his first four-day game after knee surgery – Wood is as confident as ever.
Following a microfracture operation in December, his recovery was accelerated by several visits to Saints’ Marchwood training ground to use their ‘Ultra G’ running machine (Hampshire have the same team doctor as the Premier Leaguers). “I have to ice my knee after every game now and that’s probably something I’m going to have to do for the rest of my career, but injuries are part and parcel of professional sport,” he said.
Wood returned for Hampshire’s second game and has gone on to take 16 wickets at 27.8, including a career-best 4-24 – his best T20 season since 2010.
He is also hoping to play a big part in Hampshire’s Championship run-in after the best all-round performance of his career, during which he “swung the red ball more than I’ve ever done”, in his first first-class game for 11 months.
But for now he is focused on Hampshire's last white-ball action of the season.
Wood has played in all but one of Hampshire’s five appearances at Finals Day. In 2011, Shahid Afridi’s presence cost him a place in the team that lost a Super Over decider to Somerset.
Hampshire are aiming to win an Edgbaston semi-final at the third attempt following last year’s defeat to Surrey.
“Edgbaston’s haunted us, the rain cost us the first time and Surrey outplayed us last year so we’ve got a different hotel this time and hopefully our luck will change as well,” continued Wood.
“We’ve been a little up and down this year, but we’ve found a way of winning when it’s mattered and will have to play well to beat Lancashire, the form team so far.”