Hampshire’s Chris Wood spoke to Boundary Magazine about his amazing start to his professional career, and now the 21-year-old hopes to emulate teammate and close friend James Vince by braking into the England set-up.
In 2011, you ended the CB40 campaign as the leading wicket-taker – how was last year for you?
It was a nice achievement, it was the second year in a row that I done that and it was a nice opportunity to play in all one-day competitions and I was lucky enough to get the wickets and do well. It was quite hard to get into the Championship side we had such a big squad with a lot of competition and big names including Simon Jones and Dominic Cork, so for a young lad like me it was always going to be a difficult season for me to break into the four-day side so I was just happy to get as many games as I did. I think in the end I played the last nine, so that was almost more than I expected really.
Obviously last year was a difficult season after relegation in the County Championship? How do you felt it went?
Yeah it was, very hard because we such a big club here with a such a big ground, but at the end of the day we have put that behind us and now it is a new beginning, we have a much smaller squad this year with new captain in James Adams. We have a lot of young players and some experience heads and as I said it is a new Era here now and we hope to get back into the first division if not next season then the season after.
I don’t think there is anything in particular from last year – we found it hard to win our games at home if you are going to do well and stay up, you have to win your home games really.
What do you think will change in 2012, how will it get back into Division One?
We want to get back into division one, we want to get back as quick as we can, we have been a strong one day side for many years now, so if we can just keep that going and compete well in those competitions then we would have done well.
You worked very closely with Dominic Cork, how do you think his retirement will affect you personally and the rest of the team?
Personally for me he was a great inspiration, he was a bowler who has been around, he has played Test cricket and he is guy that you could go up to and ask for advice, and you knew what he would say would help you. He was on the pitch for the majority of games I played so if I was ever struggling, he would be the first person I would go to.
It is a new Era now, obviously it was his choice to leave the game, he loved his time playing, I not totally sure for the reason why he retired, maybe he thought that he had enough, but now we have a young side, gives people more of an opportunity to play and get into the side, I don’t think it will be a massive issue we have players who can come in and do as good of a job as he would have.
What was it like winning the 2010 T20 with him as skipper?
Best moment of my life, by far. It was mind blowing; almost now it still hasn’t sunk in. It was incredible. It was very hard to take in, 25,000 people here, you almost forget that that many people are there, you just get into the game and try and do as well as you can. It is without a doubt my greatest moment in cricket, so far.
What are your aims for next season? Are looking forward to being a leader with the ball?
That will be my main aim to become a main leader with the ball; hopefully I will be in contention in all forms of the game. I would like to continue to be a leader in all one day competitions, would be nice to be the leading wicket taker in the CB40 again. I would like to be one of the main bowlers that the skipper can turn to for wickets and hopefully be a leader with the ball.
Do you see yourself as more of an all-rounder or just as a strike bowler?
I would like to think that I am more of an all-rounder, most of my teammates would say that I was a bowler who can bat, I would personally like to count myself as an all-rounder and hopefully this season I can change their opinions. I think if my batting performances do improve it will give me a better opportunity to break into the Championship side, I think if you can do well in all criteria, bat, bowl and field well then you will get into the side in front of people and hopefully I can do this.
How are the winter preparations going?
I had a slight set-back as I had a bad back at the end of last season, I have been in rehab the last three months trying to get back healthy, and have only just got back into training now, basically just started to bat in the nets, I had planned to go away to Adelaide, but those plans got destroyed because of my back, I potentially had the chance to go over now after Christmas, but I decided to stay here because we have the Rose Bowl which has great facilities, we got the indoor centre, the gym, so it just makes sense really I can just come in everyday and do what I want and get back fit again. Yeah most of them are away, there are only five of us here at the moment so it is a very small group while the rest of them are away sunning themselves up.
What are your future hopes, do you have your eye on a possible England call-up one day?
First and foremost is to have another good year with Hampshire, and I would to think that I could do what any young lad playing County Cricket wants to do and that is to play for England in one of the forms, either in one day competitions or Test cricket. The Test squad looks pretty settled for what could be for five years and the only way you can push yourself and get into that team is if you go away and do well and put in the performances and get noticed, I would like to get a chance with the England Lions and hopefully prove myself at that standard.
James Vince isn’t only one of my close friends but he is also a quality player, he has been out with the England Lions and what I have heard from him is that they are very happy with him to progress so far but the aim for him now is to just keep on working hard. There are a lot of young players in that squad, I would say he was behind a few at the minute but if he scored a few runs then he has a shout at being one of the stand out players, I think it is just a waiting game at the moment for him, wait for his opportunity and hopefully he will take it.