Other than a fast bowler, feisty lower order batsman and a medieval knight of the outfield. These are, of course, major reasons why Mark Wood is currently our favourite cricketer, but it’s not just that. He’s also unfamiliar, so there’s a wonderful uncertainty about what he might yet be.
It’s not what he’s done, it’s what might yet happen. It’s not the wickets he’s taken; it’s the ones he’s still to take. It’s not that he has an imaginary horse, it’s that he’s the kind of person who has an imaginary horse.
We didn’t know he smote straight sixes until today, for example. That was a nice revelation. While he’s still relatively new, these sorts of things will slowly reveal themselves to us and that voyage of discovery is at least half of the appeal.
In a world of identikit cricketers, the tee-totaller who sometimes whinnies at the start of a bowling spell is a gift – not least because he proves that having an imaginary horse is no barrier to success. History tells us that there have been those who would try to expunge such deviant quirks from humanity in pursuit of a ‘pure’ race of conformists. These people are known as business executives and anything that confounds their beliefs we are fully behind.
Australia require 411 to win. English (and Welsh) men and women – bring out your pessimism.