General News | 23rd November 2007
Wood looking to unlock his potential
Matthew Wood is determined that a change of environment will finally unlock his potential.
The 26-year-old batsman has moved from Somerset to Trent Bridge on a three-year deal following a frustrating summer, which saw him play just two first-class games in 2007 after losing his place to Marcus Trescothick.
And when Mick Newell came calling with the offer of regular first-team cricket, Wood openly jumped at the chance.
He said: “It’s been quite frustrating because there have been so few opportunities to play, and I can’t wait for the challenge of moving to Notts.
“I believe they are a great club, really are on the up, and the chance to play at a Test ground was something I couldn’t turn down.”
Wood’s career has enjoyed some peaks and troughs, but he believes the challenge of Division One cricket outside of his comfort zone will bring out the best in him - particularly when his only appearance at Trent Bridge so far saw him hit one of his nine career hundreds.
He added: “I’ve only played once in the Championship at Trent Bridge - in 2004 - and as I scored 113, the ground has happy memories for me.
“It’s going to be a challenge because although I did play in Division One when Somerset were in the top flight in 2001 and 2002, the gap between the two divisions seems to have widened since. I’ll be up against the best teams and the best players in the country and know I will have to raise my game.”
As a West Country man through and through, uprooting himself from Taunton and moving to the East Midlands clearly represents a major step for Wood.
Born and raised in Exeter, where he went to university, the right-hander played for Devon at age-group level before scouts from Somerset plucked him out for a Second XI debut while still aged 16.
After marking his county debut in 2001 with 71 against Yorkshire, he highlighted his promise the following year with a century in each innings against Surrey at Taunton - becoming only the 10th Ciderman to achieve the feat.
In what was a poor season overall for Somerset, that performance helped earn him the 2002 ‘Player of the Year’ award, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he took his game up a level.
A thoughtful and intelligent cricketer, Wood was appointed vice-captain, and the extra responsibility pushed him on to a mammoth 297 against Yorkshire and his first 1,000-run season.
He was also a key member of the Sabres’ squad which lifted the Twenty20 Cup, forming a formidable opening partnership with South Africa’s Graeme Smith and smashing 94 off just 35 balls against Worcestershire.
But he couldn’t maintain those standards in 2006 and once Trescothick returned last winter from his long stint with England, Wood found he was the man missing out.
He said: “Marcus is obviously a quality player but it was difficult watching from the sidelines while the team were doing so well.
“I’m looking forward to a fresh challenge and the chance to get out on the pitch and enjoy my cricket.”
Wood has always been a man who’s stayed in touch with his roots, and regularly returns home to help out the Devon Cricket Board as a coach.
He already has a Level 3 certificate and is currently studying for Level 4 - putting him on a level with Director of Cricket Mick Newell and a qualification only the elite have completed.
“I’ve always enjoyed coaching ever since I signed up for the old Level 1 as a teenager with Devon,” he said. “It helps me think about my own game a bit more and is something I would consider pursuing after my playing career is over.”
Devon Cricket Development Officer Mathew Theedom is a close friend of both Wood and Chris Read and believes Wood’s coaching qualifications could make him a great asset to the Cricket Development team at Trent Bridge.
Said Theedom: “Matt has always been very keen to help out with Devon and held coaching workshops for all the teams from Under-10s through to Under-17s, as well as coaching at Exeter University as well.
“Every year he’s always been actively involved but obviously that will be more difficult with the move. We are sad to see him go in that regard but I’m sure he would be willing to offer his services to Notts.”
This article is taken from the Winter issue of Covered, the official Notts CCC magazine available to all members. For membership details click here.