Chris Woakes puts Tests over T20s in event of concurrent England matches

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Chris Woakes says that England’s cricketers would be open to playing behind closed doors in a bid to get the international game back up and running after the Covid-19 outbreak, but concedes that his own focus would have to be on the Test and ODI squads over T20s if the plan to play different formats concurrently ever comes to fruition.Woakes played an integral role in England’s World Cup win last summer, producing a Player-of-the-Match performance in the semi-final victory against Australia, and then went on to impress in tough overseas Test conditions against New Zealand and South Africa. He claimed seven wickets at 25.71 in his two appearances, a tally that might have been greater had he not succumbed to the mystery virus that swept through the squad over Christmas.However, he played the last of his eight T20Is in November 2015, and knows that it would require quite a turn of events for him to enter England’s plans for the T20 World Cup in Australia at the end of the year – a point that he himself recognised prior to the pandemic when he withdrew from his IPL deal with Delhi Capitals to rest up ahead of England’s scheduled Test series against West Indies and Pakistan.ALSO READ: Woakes sacrificed IPL deal to extend England career”I want to play for England for as long as possible but, at the minute, it doesn’t look as though I’m going to get a go in T20 cricket unless something really drastic happens in terms of injuries,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I want to play all three formats for England, but if the games are all going to be in very close proximity, I’d obviously favour being in the red-ball and ODI side of things, rather than T20s.”Whatever shape England’s summer is eventually able to take, Woakes recognises that there will have to be sacrifices along the way, including the need for the matches to be played in a bio-secure environment, potentially at a limited number of venues such as Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl which have on-site hotels with sufficient capacity to accommodate the teams, officials and broadcasters.”It’s not something we’ve talked about in depth about but I’m sure, as players, we would be able to get our heads around playing without any fans present, because it looks like there’s a high possibility of that happening,” Woakes said. “I think we’d just be happy to get back to some form of normality, playing cricket, giving the public something to watch and hopefully entertaining some people who are missing cricket a lot.”In terms of the squad interactions during such a match, Woakes admitted the need to maintain social distancing in a team environment would be “strange”, but said that they’d encountered a degree of that already in the early weeks of their aborted tour of Sri Lanka in March.”Just coming out of [lockdown] is going to feel a bit strange, whenever that does happen,” he said. “You almost can’t see the world being the same ever again. But you saw in Sri Lanka, we were trying our hardest not to make contact with each other, and not to shake hands and stick to fist bumps and things like, but it was quite easy to forget and accidentally do something that you’d told yourselves that you weren’t going to do.Chris Woakes celebrates a wicket in the World Cup final IDI via Getty Images”So in terms of the normal interaction of a dressing room, with people being very close to each other, and communal showers, and all that sort of thing, those are going to have to have to be discussed before we can get back to normal. And there are a lot of people with young families as well – no-one knows how that would work.”But after what the world has been through, if the players have to be put in quarantine for a period of time I think they’d be happy, though it depends how long for. If they said it was going to be for three months, I think players might not be too keen. But if it was a 3-4 week window, I think guys would be open to do that without too many issues.”We’re just going to have to wait and see and sit tight, and rely on the experts’ advice, because I’d imagine they’re not going to allow teams and sport to go ahead unless it actually is pretty safe to do so.”ALSO READ: Hundred up in the air as ECB prepares for postponementUltimately sportsmen are acutely aware of the need to maximise their opportunities at the peaks of their careers, and Woakes is no exception at the age of 31, especially after the year that he enjoyed in 2019.”I still feel like I’m young enough at 31,” he said. “I’ve had the odd injury here and there but most fast bowlers do, and I feel my body’s in as good a place as it as it has been for a good few years. I haven’t missed any games due to injury for quite a while now, which is really pleasing.”I’ve been putting in some hard yards off the field to try and make sure that’s the case, but the immediate goal for me is just to try and stay in the team because the competition’s high. There’s a lot of fast bowlers knocking around and I just want to be a part of that team moving forward.”Prior to the winter tours, Woakes might have feared for his long-term future in the Test squad, given that his overseas record for England was far from impressive – just 18 wickets at 61.77 in 12 matches. However, his effectiveness with the Kookaburra ball came on in leaps and bounds thanks to his work with the new head coach Chris Silverwood and, in New Zealand, Darren Gough, who joined the squad as a consultant prior to the Tests.”I’m the first to admit that my away record hasn’t been as good as my home,” Woakes said. “But this winter was a little bit of a breakthrough for me. I think in the past I’ve probably been a little bit safe and bowled a little bit short whereas, actually, with a Kookaburra you’ve got to give it a chance to move laterally and try to drive it into that fuller length a little bit harder. I also got an opportunity to bowl with a new ball, which can help as well.”Gough – as you can imagine – was quite light-hearted, but he was a breath of fresh air in the dressing room. He didn’t rely too much on the technical side of things, he was definitely more tactical, and he drilled it home to me that you can be two different bowlers and that I needed to bowl a fuller length away from home.”You have to attack while the Kookaburra is at its newest,” he added. “I was probably being just a bit safe with my lengths and looking to sit tight rather than having that mindset of risk-reward. Cricket is a simple game in that you have still try to hit the top of off as many times as possible, but it’s about being accurate and aggressive at the same time.”

Originaly Published on 2020-04-22 22:01:56 by

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