Mark Wood column: Christmas, South Africa, Sri Lanka and 2021

Like most people, my Christmas is a little different than usual.

But I spent time with my family, ate too much chocolate and I couldn’t live without pigs in a blanket.

When you take a break from international cricket, you end up mixing the everyday with your obligations as a professional athlete.

First I got an ankle injection for Christmas, when I was in the hospital on the 28th. December in Loughborough for training. The next day we had to put up the grass in the tent, but that didn’t happen because of snow and darkness – exactly the opposite of what is happening in Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, I’m doing what everybody else did: Travel for advice, zoom in with friends and family on New Year’s Eve, get news from the boys at Christmas. Joe Root’s Christmas sweater was his English sweater of the day.

We now focus our attention on Sri Lanka, where a series of two tests will be played on Saturday.

Sri Lanka is always a difficult journey – it is the hottest place I have ever played cricket, but there are also problems with isolation and long stays in hotel rooms.

There is a natural fear when we travel abroad, not only because we are worried about our loved ones, but also after the problems we had during a cancelled tour in South Africa.

It is to be hoped that lessons can be learned from this experience so that the actors can have confidence in the environment in which we operate.

We managed to get through the Twenty20 series, but problems started to arise around the planned one-day races. First other South African players tested positive, then the hotel staff and then two of our tourism group.

Fortunately the results of our group were falsely positive, but the time we spent waiting for confirmation was quite stressful.

There was a time when we were isolated in our hotel rooms and I wondered if I could build a cave by blocking the door with my mattress.

We were worried about our friends, whether they would stop us from going home, and we were also worried that they would pass something on to us.

Moreover, you try to think about the fact that you could play international cricket. I’d never played T20 before and I thought I’d have a chance, but all eyes were on the coronavirus.

People may wonder why we felt we couldn’t play these tournaments overnight.

This was the culmination of a number of things, the most striking of which is that we learned that the employee who serves us at the hotel had a positive background check.

That is in the past, and when the new year begins, we look forward to everything that will come in 2021.

A hard-won battle in Sri Lanka, a huge series of home and away matches against India, the chance to become double T20 World Champion and the chance to bring home the ashes in Australia.

Personally, I would like to have a place in both the T20 and the Test. I’ve had conversations with the captains and the coach, and I feel I understand what to do after missing out on a key contract in September.

But I don’t think I can prove it in Sri Lanka. I’ve tried too hard in the past, but this time I’m just going to do my best and not worry about the result or where it might lead.

As for T20 cricket, one way to claim a place in the English team could be to put my name forward in the next edition of the Indian Premier League.

I’d only played one IPL game, and I couldn’t have a better idea of myself. There have been other times I’ve missed opportunities to stay fresh for England.

However, I am aware of the benefits of participation, including the ability to rub shoulders with the best players in the world.

I’d like to take another bite, and maybe it’s something I’ll look at in 2021.

Mark Wood spoke with Stephan Shemilt from Sports.

Mark Wood column: Christmas, South Africa, Sri Lanka and 2021 Mark Wood column: Christmas, South Africa, Sri Lanka and 2021

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