Unlucky Break Chris Wood joins the England U19s
Dec 1 2008
Academy player Chris Wood is one of a trio of Hampshire cricketers selected for the England Under 19 squad to tour South Africa in January. As it is his first England representative honour, I was keen to meet the latest in a line of talented Hampshire teenagers.
Chris hasn’t exactly had the best preparation for the tour as he broke two fingers at his first England training session. “We all gathered in Loughborough a few Saturdays ago, which was the first time I’d met the other lads and the coaches, so it was a bit nerve-wracking. We were doing fielding practice off the bowling machine and the first ball I stopped caught me on the end of the finger but I didn’t want to say anything – which was completely the wrong thing to do. The next ball hit me straight on the end of the little finger so they were both broken!
“I didn’t get to participate too much after that but I got a basic idea of what goes on and what to expect. I’m hoping the next time I’m up there I’ll be able to join in a bit more. It’s an amazing place – it’s massive. There are about fifteen nets spread across the hall and you can get your whole run up in – plus wicket keepers at the other end. Here at The Rose Bowl you can get the bowler in, but not a wicket keeper as well unless they’re standing up. Apparently they have amazing technology at Loughborough too; I’ve heard that they can change the heat in the hall so you can acclimatise to wherever you’re going. It’s a great place!”
Luckily Chris’ fingers will be fully healed in time for the tour, but it isn’t the first time that injuries have come between him and a chance to play for England. “I had a back problem just before selection for the Under 17s. It was a stress reaction, rather than a stress fracture, which put me out for a good half of the season, so I focussed on my batting and didn’t do any bowling [Chris is a fast bowler] and tried to get stronger to prevent injury in the future.” I wondered if fast bowlers are especially injury prone. “I reckon it depends on how hard you work in the gym. They say young bowlers are getting injured but that’s probably because their bodies are still adapting and trying to grow, but I’m guessing gym work gives you the best chance of preventing injury in the future.”
Chris has been playing cricket since he was eight years old, first with Liphook CC, then with the village side his father played for, and finally ending up at Basingstoke where he feels his cricket really started to progress. He was first selected for Hampshire Under 10s and has played for the County at every age group since, being selected for the Academy when he was 17. Chris explained to me that Academy winter training means two sessions a week; three hours of one to one coaching (an hour each of bowling, batting and fitness), and the whole Academy working together on a Sunday for four hours, going though team drills and fielding practice. “This is the time the Academy Director can look at new players” Chris said. “They’re invited to join in, and that’s how I started. I wasn’t actually named as part of the Academy for my first winter sessions but I came to all the training and just before the summer season started they named me on the Academy.”
Chris’ interest in sport extends to his academic life and he is currently studying for a BTEC National Diploma in Sport at Alton College. “The course is basically split up into eighteen units over two years” he told me. “There are different units such as sport massage and sport nutrition; it pretty much covers the whole sporting world so it could take you on to whatever you want to do. It’s been quite hard to balance the studying with the cricket, to be honest, especially last year when there was so much coursework and with the cricket season starting in April I ended up just trying to get all my work done early. It’s pretty hard to fail though; you do your assignment first time around and if it’s not good enough you get three chances. It was a bit of a rush last year, but I did get it done in the end. It didn’t really affect my cricket, which is the main thing!”
The England Under 19 tour leaves for South Africa on 4th January until 6th February. The team will spend two and a half weeks in Cape Town and the rest of the time in Johannesburg, playing warm up games followed by five one day internationals, two Twenty20s, some more warm ups and a Test match. I hope to be able to follow the progress of our Hampshire players for the website.