NASSER HUSSAIN: Chris Woakes goes under the radar in every international format because of the people around him, but the English all-rounder is a captain’s dream
- Woakes is a luxury Australia doesn’t have – a frontline bowlers batsman
- The all-rounder was a big difference between the sides in this series
- He has proven to be a man for many things, but ultimately one by crisis
While Australia stole the series at death, Chris Woakes is a player who came out with his head held high.
Woakes is a captain’s dream, the kind of guy you always want on your team – sometimes we forget how damn good he is.
He goes under the radar in every international format because of the people around him: in test matches that is the presence of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, and in limited span cricket we are in love with the speed of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.
Chris Woakes has proven to be a man for many things, but ultimately for crisis
Our attention is drawn to the fact that Archer roughs up David Warner of Wood coming in at the first change and hitting 95mph, so we tend to overlook the highly skilled operator on the other end who routinely runs five times a day. times.
People forget how talented Woakes, this all-in-one cricketer, is because he’s such a good guy, such a great competitor, and only too happy to take on a backstage role. But if you need someone to use his or her skills – to keep up with the pace of the ball and bowl cutters – then he’s your man.
In a team meeting the night before a game, the bowlers will be reminded to try and smother the ball back into Aaron Finch from just outside the stump, and Woakes, 31, is the type of character who delivers that skill over and over again.
If he has to be smart and hit it in the field towards the end of the innings, he does, and when he goes into a mini-crisis with the bat, he takes the pressure.
The English all-rounder was a big difference between the sides in this series
Woakes does not know when a game is finished and dusted. Don’t take that 84 out in the Test match that wins against Pakistan here in Manchester. He hadn’t had any runs for a long time by then – he himself said he traded binary numbers – but he was producing under pressure.
Or when England was cut to 8-5 in early 2018 as lead hitter against Australia in an ODI in Adelaide. His 78 gave them something to bowl to and the Australians only sneaked home with three wickets. He was a big difference between the teams in this series because while Australia had to go about things one way, rebuild and bide their time with the bat, England has not.
When they were 0-2 after two deliveries, Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan were still able to turn down knowing they have a Woakes safety valve – who came in with 75 balls of the innings remaining, and rounded everything off in a very clever way, with another undefeated half century to get them to 300.
He is a luxury Australia lacks – a frontline bowler hitter – and their lack of such a player put the magnificent match-winning partnership between centurions Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey into context. That pair represented Australia’s last chance.
Woakes is the ticks-every-box cricketer and is only too happy to take on a backstage role
Woakes isn’t concerned about the awards, either. Archer was the man of the match in the second game when the Warwickshire man was equally influential in producing Australia’s late collapse.
Not only does it suit his style of playing second fiddle – he had to get used to that with Ben Stokes in the all-round effort – it doesn’t hurt him either. He does what is asked of him.
But don’t confuse it with a gentle touch. He will be grumpy if left out. And the captain and coach will no doubt remind himself of facts like his home test wickets costing under 23 apiece.
He’s proven to be a man for a lot of things but in the end one crisis at a time and I feel like after signing out of this year’s Indian Premier League he can put his feet up, sit up and go his beloved Aston Villa can watch in the knowledge that he did everything he could for England this summer.