Mark Wood delivers one of the fastest Test spells recorded in England

Mark Wood delivers one of the fastest Test spells recorded in England

Mark Wood made a dramatic entry to the Ashes series with the second-fastest spell on record in Test matches in England.

The England bowler’s opening four-over burst brought him one wicket for just two runs but the more impressive statistics came from the speed gun, with Wood firing down his first ball at 91 miles per hour and at one point topping 96mph in a spell during which he never dipped below 90.

England’s official Twitter account marked his first over as the fastest ever at Headingley – a record that remarkably lasted only until his second.

By the time he had finished his short spell – a pre-planned move as England protect his fitness – he had averaged almost 93mph with only one of his own spells at Lord’s in 2021 recording a higher average speed in CricViz’s database, which goes back to 2006.

Wood combined his pace with swing and an aggressive length which had Marnus Labuschagne playing and missing or defending off the splice of the bat in an opening maiden, albeit with four leg byes off the fourth ball.

The first ball of Wood’s next over beat Labuschagne’s outside edge and the next was fended uncertainly off the shoulder of the bat before the third flashed through at 96.5mph, the quickest ball of Wood’s spell.

The fourth ball of the third over, banged in short, cleared both Labuschagne and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow by a distance on its way for four byes – the fact it escaped being called wide helping Wood to a third straight maiden.

Labuschagne was again repeatedly beaten and, despite countering Wood’s speed by abandoning his habit of batting out of his crease, saw multiple balls crash off high on his bat.

A wider ball in the next over allowed Usman Khawaja to carve the first two runs off Wood’s bowling but he responded in style by beating him on the inside edge at 94.6mph to take out leg stump while almost bowling himself off his feet.

Captain Ben Stokes, Wood’s county team-mate at Durham, resisted the temptation to give him a fifth over despite Steve Smith coming out to bat. Smith has been dismissed twice in the series by Josh Tongue, England’s next-quickest bowler at an average of 84.9mph, with Wood’s opening spell quicker by a margin of 8mph.

He did return for two overs before the lunch interval, this time up the hill at the Football Stand End, with his average pace dipping just below 90mph – though he had Travis Head dropped by Bairstow off a 91mph leg-side delivery.