MARK WOOD admitted he wondered, on occasions, if he would ever play Test cricket for England again.

But such was his impact in the winter, he admitted the ECB might yet not grant permission for him to play for Durham this summer as try and protect a bowler who can be a genuine match-winner.

The paceman took his first five-wicket Test haul for England in the West Indies, the return coming on the back of an impressive run for England Lions against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

Aged 29 and after his 13th Test he admitted that for the first time he felt like an England cricketer.

There’s a home Ashes series ahead, but first is the World Cup, held in England and he is desperate to try and bowl his country to success.

“It’s been a big winter for me, an important one in my career,’’ he admitted at Emirates Riverside yesterday morning.

“I was left out in Sri Lanka and I felt I’d done OK but not enough for a spot. With England Lions I had a brilliant tour away from the spotlight, changed my run-up, did well and took confidence into the West Indies.

“It felt like the right time, I was confident, felt good and to do well in the West Indies has helped my cause for the summer and now I’m in a stronger position than I was at the end of our season here.’’

A change in his bowling action has paid dividend: “I’ve had to change my run up, had enough of the stress in my ankle and body in general. To have a bizarre injury out of nowhere last season(floating bone in an ankle) I felt it was right to change and it’s worked wonders.

“To try and force fast bowling and to force the pace and intensity was too much. With my new run up I can still cruise in and be accurate rather than forcing it from my shoulder and put demands on my ankle. I can be more rhythmical and I’ve felt good since I changed.’’

Durham’s season starts on Friday at Derbyshire, but it’s unlikely Wood will be able to play.

The first home game, starting a week on Thursday, is more likely.

“I’ve an England constraint now to see how my body is, had a couple of weeks off and the plan was to play at Derby or at home to Sussex, but it’s looking more likely Sussex, and two of the 50 over games and hopefully England from there…’’ he mused.

“England are being cautious and looking after me – talking about not playing any championship cricket at all, but I want to play for Durham.

“It’s a fresh start here, new people have come in and it feels like it’s turning around a bit.’’

Wood has been at Durham throughout the traumas of the financial difficulties and harsh treatment by the ECB.

Now they have come through it with a new coaching hierarchy, a changing of the guard if you like.

And, as well as the arrivals of head coach James Franklin and director of cricket Marcus North, Wood sees the potential in squad.

“We lost lads, local lads to other counties, and the cycle is turning now again – the likes of Brydon Carse, Matthew Potts who were injured last year are back now and ready to push on.

“We have recruited well with Ben Raine and Alex Lees too, Cameron Bancroft and I feel the squad has developed. I want to start the season with Durham and if start the season well with Durham it helps everyone – Durham, myself and England.’’

He added: “It’s a new start, a new cycle. You tend to get four or five Academy lads through in batches, but when you lose Stoneman, Borthwick, Mustard, Onions and look at the last two years you will have inconsistency. A year down the line and players will be more consistent.

“Lads who were injured have come back well and it’s like getting a new player back. For me, with three teams going up we can play smarter cricket.

“I feel in the past we have tried to win games to prove a point – we could have played a draw, took the points, but instead we’ve said ‘Nah we are Durham, we need to prove a point and get back to where we belong’ and ended up looking stupid at 100 all out.’’

As well as those players returning from injury, there’s also one big statement made by the new Riverside hierarchy.

New Durham Cricket captain Bancroft will miss Friday’s opener, as he must attend an end of season awards dinner in Perth with Western Australia this week before flying to England.

He will meet up with his new charges at Derby and take charge against Sussex next week.

After a nine-month ban for his part in the ball tampering fiasco with Australia in South Africa ended, he was soon into his stride in both the Big Bash and Sheffield Shield.

The appointment has attracted headlines and criticism and, while Wood took some time to digest the news, he can see the benefits a world class opener can bring to the Emirates Riverside dressing room.

“I was surprised when he was announced captain, to be honest I didn’t think they would go for him and I probably wouldn’t have either!’’ he smiled. “But the more I think about it then I see why.

“Look at the squad and people aren’t guaranteed a spot, the two who could are Alex Lees – but it’s not the right time as he just wants to concentrate on runs. There’s Rushy, but bowlers never get the captaincy do they!

“The more I thought about it I see he has international pedigree and no matter what people say or throw at him isn’t as bad as he’s had over the last 12 months.

“It’s probably developed him more as a cricketer and a person – and he will have a point to prove as an Australian over here. He will want to prove how good a leader he is and he has international pedigree.

“If we get off to a flying start and then he comes in and scored runs and we win, then it looks like a genius move.’’