Ashington’s Steve Harmison lauded the highest praise on Mark Wood after the 25-year-old from Wansbeck was called up by England for the forthcoming tour to face the West Indies in the Caribbean.
And Harmison, who will forever be remembered after taking a magnificent haul of 7-12 against the West Indies at Sabina Park 11 years ago, firmly believes Wood can be a real star of the future.
He said: “My Initial reaction was that it was fantastic news and just deserved, and if there is an incline of him making his debut then I would love to go across to watch, and with me there would probably be half of Ashington Cricket Club going as well.
“And the Langwell Crescent outfit deserve an enormous amount of credit because in the last 15 years Ben Harmison, Mark Wood and myself have come through the ranks and cricket in this area is thriving.
“I speak to a lot of influential people in the world game not just in the England game, and if they can keep Mark fit then I can see him making statements in the world of cricket.
“He can only be as good as making a debut and taking one step at a time, but once he has done that he has all the skills to be high level.”
Harmison continued: “I am in conversation with players who are in the England team now who speak highly of Mark for all the right reasons, and it’s a massive congratulations to his parents Derek and Angie, his uncle Neil and his granddad, because you will not meet nicer people than the Wood family.
“And I am so, so happy for that family to have a chance to get what my family had, and that is at least for one day to watch their son playing international cricket.
“But if Mark stays fit they will have more than just one day – they will have a lifetime watching a young man develop into a fantastic cricketer, and hopefully one that the world will stand up and think ‘wow, he’s special’, because I think he is.
“This kid is a special talent that the ECB has got to look at, evolve, develop and make sure that in two or three years time he is up there in the conversations of the best fast bowlers, not just in England but in the world game, because Mark has got the skills.
“There is a certain bowler at the top of the world rankings I played against in 2004 when he made his debut, I am not going to mention his name, but when I spoke to Michael Vaughan the other week, I said what we played against then, Mark Wood has got everything about him to be that, and this bowler has become the world’s best.
“I think Mark has everything in his make-up to be somebody who can conquer the world.
“I went to the West Indies in 2004 and put my name in lights by taking 7-12 at Sabina Park, and I just hope and believe Mark can, if selected, put a stamp on the game in English cricket and be every bit as good, because I rate him that highly.
“I’ve always been careful of putting people on pedestals especially coming from Durham, the Stokes, the Borthwicks, the Mustards, the Onions, all them getting into the England team and once they got there I’ve raved about them.
“Other than Ben Stokes, who I think is a ridiculously exceptional talent that could be the best in the world in the all rankings games, Mark Wood I feel, not for sentiment but actual ability of a cricketer, can be whatever he wants to be if he stays fit and the ECB look after him.
“However, first and foremost, come Antigua on April 13 that the selectors pick him because he has to play in the first test match, not because he is an Ashington lad, nor Durham lad, I just think the way the ECB have gone and the negativity around the England cricket team, I think Mark will put himself onto a good footing for the long summer we have got ahead.”