Wood buzzing to return to ‘pride and joy’ Vitality Blast after hectic year

Daily News
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Luke Wood was one of the busiest cricketers on the planet this winter, but the seamer describes being back at home to kick off Lancashire’s Vitality Blast campaign as his “pride and joy”.

Wood has been all over the globe since finishing runner-up with the Lightning in last year’s competition, making his England debut in a historic tour of Pakistan, travelling to Australia as a reserve for the triumphant T20 World Cup and picking up franchise deals in the Big Bash, the UAE’s IL20 league and the Bangladesh Premier League.

It has been the most lucrative and demanding period of the 27-year-old’s career, with new experiences, new team-mates and new responsibilities to bear.

But on Saturday he will be lining up for the Red Rose against Derbyshire in Edgbaston’s ‘Blast Off’, a double-headed curtain-raiser for the white-ball season that also sees hosts Birmingham Bears take on Yorkshire.

“I’ve certainly been claiming a lot of air miles. I’ve been busy, but I’m back home,” he told the PA news agency with a smile of satisfaction.

“Whenever I come back to play for Lancashire, that’s my pride and joy. This is where I earned those opportunities in the first place. After four busy months away, it’s back to reality. Being here, this is my job.

“But I’ve enjoyed that franchise circuit so much, it can only grow your game as a player. You talk about the captains, the coaches, the different ideas…you’re learning all the time.

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“My international career might be limited so far but I’ve been able to play against that calibre of player regularly and I feel my game has come on so much.

“Being an overseas player is a big thing. The expectations are on you and the drive now is the same as when I’m in that overseas role. I pride myself on meeting the same expectations.”

Wood admits Lancashire are a side with some frustrations to work out, be it from last season’s finals day where they gave up a winning position to lose the title to Hampshire or this year’s record of five consecutive draws in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

“You can see as a club we are hungry for a win,” he added.

“There aren’t too many draws in T20 cricket thankfully and we want to get the ball rolling. Coming second last year has almost given us a bigger drive for the Blast because finishing runner-up feels the same as losing.

“It’s always disappointing to lose a final, but it gives you a bit of extra motivation. We felt like we were cruising for a long time but you know it’s never over in T20. Next time is for us, I hope.”

Lancashire's Luke Wood (left) celebrates the wicket of Essex's Adam Rossington during the Vitality Blast T20 quarter-final last year at Old Trafford

Image: Lancashire’s Luke Wood (left) celebrates the wicket of Essex’s Adam Rossington during the Vitality Blast T20 quarter-final last year at Old Trafford

Derbyshire’s head coach Mickey Arthur is another man with unfinished business in the competition.

His side enjoyed a strong run in the North Group of last year’s Blast, but dropped the ball in their quarter-final against Somerset as they were rolled over for 74 chasing 266.

“We did fall off the rails in the quarter-final but we’re better for that experience,” Arthur said.

“It did leave a bad taste, but it’s easy to forget we won nine games in a row against some big teams. The guys have learned. You can’t go to a supermarket and and buy experience, you’ve got to go through it.

“Our recruitment has been good too and I really think we’ve got a side who can shake up a couple of teams.”

The opening day of the Vitality Blast T20 takes place this weekend as Derby Falcons face Lancashire Lightning, on Sky Sports Cricket from 2pm on Saturday live from Edgbaston; that game is followed by Mooen Ali’s Birmingham Bears against Yorkshire Vikings from 6.15pm.

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