Love Island: How cricket and the reality TV villa are coupling up

Mark Wood and Love Island contestants Image copyright ITV2 Love Island/Getty Images

What connects the Love Island villa and the England cricket team?

South Africa, for sure, as the new ITV2 series is based there and it's where England play their third test against the South African team.

England bowler Mark Wood admits it goes deeper than that though - he and some of his team-mates are fans of the show.

"Liam Plunkett would settle down every night on tour to watch it," the world cup winner tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"I've had a couple of days off and I've just found out the villa is here (in South Africa). I could have gone and done a recce and scouted it out for anyone going in."

"It'll be a little bit strange the show not being in the villa in Spain. Similar weather I guess."

The 30 year-old thinks a crossover isn't out of the question and he even has players in mind who he'd like to see in the villa.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Tom Curran is the ideal cricketer to go on Love Island according to Mark Wood

"We've got a few who could go in. I think Tom Curran would be the guy I'd most want to be on there," says Mark.

"He's got the slicked back hair, the tan and the tattoos. He's got a good body on him and he's single as well."

There's another link from Mark to the ITV2 show, because his friend, former Durham player Max Morley, won the 2015 series - before Love Island became the ratings hit it is today.

"Max feels a bit hard done by that, he was on that one and now it's so big," he adds.

And the appreciation between cricket and Love Island works both ways because former series three contestant Chris Hughes is a huge fan of the sport.

He played in the TMS vs Tailenders special cricket event which included former England captain Michael Vaughan and Radio 1's Greg James.

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Image caption Love Island winner Max Morley is a former Durham player and Chris Hughes is a big fan

Mark didn't play a game in the first two matches of the South African test series - he was part of the squad with expectations he'd be fit to play the third, after recovering from injuries.

He believes he's back to fitness after some time out, but hasn't played since England's world cup victory last summer.

During his down-time in South Africa, Mark's been spending time in the pool with fellow bowler and record test wicket-taker Jimmy Anderson, describing the pairing as the "Phelps and Thorpe of the swimming pool in Cape Town."

But with Jimmy now ruled out of the rest of the tour with his own injury, it's a chance for Wood to make his comeback.

"I'm getting there. I think I can throw my name in the hat," he says.

"I don't know whether - from a management point of view - it's maybe a little bit too early but we'll wait and see."

'Friendly rivalry' with Jofra Archer

Wood will have stiff competition though, with fellow speedster Jofra Archer also looking to return to the team.

After playing the first test, Jofra was ruled out of the last match with an elbow injury.

"We have a friendly rivalry over the speed gun," says Wood.

"In the World Cup final I knew that I'd pipped him. I was clocked at 95.7mph and he was 95.6mph and as we came off the field and into the dressing room I was dying to tell him."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mark Wood and Jofra Archer played key roles in England's world cup success

Mark's positive about England's chances for the third test match after they levelled the series 1-1 in Cape Town, winning the second by 189 runs.

"We had amazing support and that really gave the team an extra lift.

"We went through a hard time with illness in the camp so to come through that and then perform so well has given us the momentum going into this."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mark Wood is know for pretending to take an imaginary horse onto the field with him

As for the imaginary horse which Wood is famous for bringing onto the cricket field, he's unlikely to make an appearance in South Africa.

"I've left him in the stables back in the UK. Maybe if I get a game, I can bring him out then but it'll take a long time in that overseas cargo."

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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