Pakistan is the spiritual home of left-arm fast bowling so the team-sheets in Tuesday’s night opening T20I seemed incongruous: England picked three left-arm seamers in their side to Pakistan’s none.
“The start got delayed because they were moving behind the bowler’s arm so you got a full chance to take it in,” Wood said. “I remember being stood at midwicket thinking ‘this is proper’. It was so loud. You know they love their cricket but it was pretty special. To have that on your debut makes it even better – it’s like ‘wow, this is international cricket’.”
The crowd were vocal throughout the first half of Pakistan’s innings but died down as England’s bowlers dragged the game back. They fell collectively silent when Wood took his first international wicket, ripping Mohammad Nawaz’s off stump out of the crowd before leaping and punching the air in celebration.
He finished with figures of 3 for 24, conceding only 12 runs from his two overs at the death. His second and third wickets were less spectacular – both caught in the deep, one off a full toss and the other off a slower ball – but were just as important in restricting Pakistan.
“Your first wicket is the one that stands out in your memory and thankfully it was a good one,” Wood said. “That’s how I always play my cricket: there’s always a smile on my face and that’s something I really pride myself on. It just shows my love for the game. It was just about trying to enjoy my debut as much as I could.”
He is also keen to play his part in busting the “huge myth” that left-arm seamers are only picked to provide variety. “Teams can play four right-armers but can’t play four left-armers? I’ve just never understood that,” he said.
“Obviously England have a lot of good left-arm fast bowlers now so the options are there, but also, we’re all different: different heights, speeds and attributes. Just because they’re all left-arm, it doesn’t make a difference.”
Wood earned his place in this squad through an impressive domestic season, playing in the final of both English short-form competitions. He took 14 wickets for Lancashire in the Blast and 10 for Trent Rockets in their victorious Hundred campaign, regularly hitting 90mph/145kph and bowling aggressive new-ball spells.
He is one of several England players in an unusual situation during this series, one mirrored in Australia’s tour to India: even if he finishes as the leading wicket-taker on either side, he will not be part of their World Cup squad, barring an injury to one of England’s first-choice seamers.
But he knows that strong performances will come in handy down the line. “We had a big chat before this series started about the fact it’s not just about this series, but going forward. Being pretty new into the squad, it’s about trying to perform and showing what I have. Everything changes so quickly.”
And after missing out on an England cap in the Netherlands earlier this year – he was the only unused squad member during their ODI tour – Wood is not taking things for granted. “I would have loved to have made my debut there,” he said, “but at the same time, I feel like because they don’t just give them out, you feel you have earned it. In a way, it makes it feel more special.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98