Chris Woakes gets rewards of England win over Australia in Ashes
Before last Sunday, Chris Woakes might have tasted the high of scoring the winning runs in an Ashes Test if bad light hadn’t intervened at the Oval 10 years ago.
In addition, since that thwarted run chase on debut in 2013, which coincided with those of Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, and Ben Stokes, his Test career has required a great deal of patience along the way; one of the virtues that had so many rooting for the Brummie Botham at Headingley.
Those scenes, as Woakes crashed Mitchell Starc square for four to secure England’s three-wicket win, also rewarded the nostalgists among them; the Western Terrace rising as one – despite pockets of green and gold – and Nasser Hussain calling the slow-motion replay, just as he did for Stokes in 2019. As Woakes put it, “I felt a tiny bit like Ben felt at Headingley last time.”. He added, “It was amazing to get over the line and beat them.”
There is a tendency to forget that Woakes’ six-wicket, 42-run performance was a first for the “Bazball” era Woakes, going into the fourth Test at OldTrafford next week. As a result, Dukes’ ball specialism – now 100 wickets at 22 runs apiece at home – left him wondering if the role of drinks waiter would be his lot this summer after missing the 2022 season with a knee injury.
He said, “It’s quite emotional.”. You sometimes think the ship has sailed, of course. It was especially frustrating to be away from the team last summer when things were going so well. I made a big decision at the start of summer not to play in the Indian Premier League, and it’s days like these that make the decision pay off, comfortably.
“That roar, the Western Terrace going crazy.”. It might have been better if I had done it in front of the Hollies Stand [at Edgbaston, his home ground]. It’s pretty special, though. It would be wonderful if you could preserve that and revisit it forever.”
Woakes thought his performance “got the rewards it deserved”, but that’s all there is to his ego. It would be easy for him to swagger about with two World Cup winners’ medals, but he remains surprisingly modest about it. This nod to the IPL highlights Woakes’ Twenty20 career on his own terms; he has been there, bought the holiday cottage, and refined his skills, but England has always been No. 1.
It probably goes back to the 16-year-old Warwickshire academy kid who helped the ground staff with the covers during Edgbaston’s famous 2005 Ashes Test. After 18 years, he and his carpool buddy, Mark Wood – 13 wickets and 92 runs between them in Leeds – are the foundation of hopes of a full-blown turnaround at Old Trafford.
They also make up a seasoned bowling stable in the England squad, at 34 and 33, respectively. Moeen Ali is 36, Anderson is 41, and Broad just turned 37. Next winter, Josh Tongue, 24, will move from Worcestershire to Nottinghamshire’s Test facilities, while Ollie Robinson, 29, continues to fall victim to a maddening case of an enormously talented player not giving himself every opportunity he can.
There is a piece to be written on what follows the ultraprofessional elder statesman; will the English system continue to produce seamers dedicated enough for Test recognition? As well, another mustwin test is just around the corner, set up by a prime example of the qualities we’re discussing.
The optimism that has resulted from the victory has always been there, Woakes said. There is a belief in that dressing room that we can win 3-2. But you shouldn’t look too far ahead; you need to focus on the ball in front of you, each day, each session, every Test as it comes.
When you get so close to something, it’s hard to cross the finish line, isn’t it? I’m sure the Aussies are feeling that now. In Manchester, we must put on another performance. They’re an excellent team. If we want to beat them again, we’ll have to be at our best.”