Nasser Hussain names England player who brings ‘X-Factor’ after Ashes showing

Former England captain Nasser Hussain believes Mark Wood gives England’s bowling attack a valuable ‘X-factor’ as they try to fight back against Australia in the Ashes.

Australia lead the series 3-0 – which means they have retained the famous urn. The fourth Test hangs in the balance after a rain-affected opening day at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

The start was delayed by half an hour before the morning session was twice interrupted and a two-hour delay was experienced either side of the tea interval.

On the pitch, Stuart Broad got David Warner caught at second slip by Zak Crawley for 30 and James Anderson had Marcus Harris dismissed for 38 after a catch by captain Joe Root.

Marnus Labuschagne was then nicked out by Wood, with the bowler dismissing the superstar batsman for the second successive time this series.

The 31-year-old’s fine form has certainly not gone unnoticed, with Hussein singling the bowler out in his Daily Mail column.

“Mark Wood has that knack of getting good players out and he was impressive on day one,” wrote Hussein.

“Wood just has that extra zip to ruffle up the best players, as he has shown in providing problems for Labuschagne and Steve Smith in this series, and the way he has kept going in Australia has been a massive plus for England.

“If you just look at stats it might be tempting to wonder what all the fuss is about with Wood but that is unfair. He has the misfortune of invariably being brought in on the flattest pitches when that something extra is needed.

“That's when you need the pace and X-factor Wood provides, which is why it was so surprising he didn't play at Adelaide on the flattest pitch of this series.”

Hussein, who captained England between 1999 and 2003, believes Wood stars regardless of the situation, conditions or scenario the fast bowler faces.

“Whatever the conditions and whenever he plays, Wood is a fabulous cricketer not only because of that pace but also because he always plays with a smile on his face,” Hussein added.

“He always gives it absolutely everything and must be a joy to captain and have around.”

Further rain and thunderstorms are forecast on days two and four, which may make a final result difficult and a draw likely, avoiding a series whitewash for England.

Play is scheduled to resume at 23:00 GMT on Wednesday night, with Steve Smith and Unman Khawaja, making his first Test appearance since 2019, on six and four not out respectively.

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