England star Mark Wood says net sessions with his wife and father have helped improve batting

Will Macpherson
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Mark Wood has revealed the secret to his newfound batting success – net sessions in Newcastle with his father and wife feeding the bowling machine.

Wood retuned to England's Test team in the third Test against South Africa in Port Elizabeth and has since contributed 77 runs from 62 balls (including eight sixes), as well as picking up six wickets.

At the Wanderers on Saturday, he shared an unlikely 82 from 50 balls with Stuart Broad for the 10th wicket as England took charge of the match.

And he says his father Derek and wife Sarah peppering him with short balls has helped improve his batting.

“I did a lot of work at Newcastle indoor centre, behind the scenes there on the bowling machine,” Wood said. “Sometimes with my Dad, sometimes with my wife feeding me the balls on the machine.

"I knew we were coming here and it was a bit bouncy, so I was working on how I thought they'd attack me – either at the stumps or at my head. I've done quite a lot of work on that in the nets, with [assistant coach] Graham Thorpe on my balance.

"If you were to watch a net session you'd see [head coach] Chris Silverwood get pretty happy when I come in because it means he can bounce me for half an hour.

“It's a work in progress but being in a good place mentally with my bowling has helped with my batting. It means I'm going to go out there thinking I can deliver."

Wood said his wife enjoys giving him a working over in the nets.

“She's laughing telling me to get in line,” he said. “She got me a couple of times, my Dad as well is particularly spicy but Silverwood is the worst because he laughs when he hits you.

"You think the coach would be more supportive but he just laughs, he's still got a fast bowler in him I think.”

Wood said he preferred keeping out an over from Anrich Nortje, who took a maiden-five-wicket haul, to any of his boundaries, but chose a smoked six over extra cover off Beuran Hendricks as his favourite.

“I’m still a bowler,” he said. “It was nice to slog a few. I was most pleased with the Nortje over when I had to play him properly. That was pretty quick, so I was pleased to get through that and hang around with [Chris] Woakesy for a bit. Then it was just good fun with Broady at the end."

Wood has also starred in his normal role as pace bowler (REUTERS)

He added: “I was pretty happy with that. I was buzzing with the one over extra-cover, point. Externally you have to act all professional and that, but internally I was like 'what a shot that was'. I was trying not to look too buzzing!”

Wood then picked up three wickets as England reduced South Africa to 88 for six by stumps, raising hopes that they can end the series with a third-straight win. His first wicket, Pieter Malan, was clocked at 94.4mph – England’s second-fastest wicket-taking delivery ever.

“Since I changed my run-up things seem to click a little easier,” he said. “I’m not forcing it as much and I feel I have better rhythm. Plus having an iconic stadium and quick pitch gives you extra incentive to impress."

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