Mark Wood: England bowler says missing Ashes Tests was 'bitter pill to swallow'

England bowler Mark Wood shapes to release the ball in the first ODI against Australia
Fast bowler Mark Wood impressed in England's 4-1 ODI series victory over Australia
Twenty20 tri-series: Australia, England & New Zealand
Venue: Australia & New Zealand Date: 3-21 February
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW, online & BBC Sport website and app. Live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

England fast bowler Mark Wood says not playing a part in the Ashes was a "bitter pill to swallow" after being "pushed along" to prove his fitness.

Wood, 28, was left out of England's initial 16-man Test squad as he was still troubled by an ankle injury.

He played for the Lions in Australia but was not selected for the final two Tests after England had lost the urn.

"I was disappointed that at the end of last year I was sort of pushed along, trying to get ready," said Wood.

"Then to find out that I wasn't going to be on - it was quite a bitter pill to swallow."

Speaking to the BBC's Stumped programme, Wood said he had a "gut feeling" he was not going to be called up for the Ashes after struggling to fully recover from the injury that kept him out of the third Test against South Africa in July.

"It's never nice to hear those words, even if in the back of my mind, I was thinking 'I'm not going to make it,'" said Wood, who has taken 26 wickets in 10 Tests.

"But I managed to come with the Lions and sort of fly under the radar a little bit - I got my pace right up and felt good."

England lost the first three Tests of the five-match series down under as their fast-medium attack failed to significantly trouble the home side's batsmen. In contrast, Australia's pace trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc prospered.

Despite that Wood, who can bowl in excess of 90mph, was not called up the fourth and fifth Tests in Melbourne and Sydney respectively, as Joe Root's side fell to a 4-0 series defeat.

"I was always on the right track coming back through, it was just a case of did I have enough confidence? And did the coach and the captain have enough confidence to throw me into the Test match?" he said.

"Melbourne, I was pretty close, and Sydney I was pretty close, but it wasn't to be, because ultimately I hadn't bowled more than one or two days in a game and couldn't prove to selectors I was ready to go, even though I felt good and had confidence in myself."

Wood was recalled to the Test squad for the two-match series in New Zealand next month, and is in the squad for the Twenty20 tri-series between England, Australia and New Zealand, which starts on Saturday.

He is also preparing to play in the Indian Premier League for the first time, after being bought by Chennai Super Kings for £71,000.

'I believe we're probably the best in the world'

Wood said he was "fresh and raring to go" when he played in the first four one-day internationals as England beat world champions Australia 4-1.

"It was nice to set things on a new track after the Ashes because it was hard to take being in the England camp and seeing your friends lose," he added.

"Our one-day side is one of the best in the world, if not the best. I truly believe we are probably the best."

The Durham paceman said he "set the tone" for the series with a hostile opening spell in the first match at Melbourne, removing Australia opener David Warner with just his fifth delivery.

"We talked about bouncing Warner as it was something he hadn't experienced in the Tests and maybe wasn't expecting," he said.

"It showed this one-day team doesn't take a step back and we'll throw punches to give just as good as we get."

Hear more from Mark Wood on Stumped on Saturday on the BBC World Service or download the podcast here.

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