Sri Lankans very tricky to play in their own conditions: Woakes

Wednesday, 13 January 2021 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Chris Woakes


The last occasion when England toured Sri Lanka in 2018 and swept the series 3-0 fast bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes was warming himself in the reserves bench without getting a single game.

Woakes is back in Sri Lanka with the England side three years later and in the absence of Ben Stokes would have easily put himself in contention for a place as an all-rounder for the two-Test series starting at Galle tomorrow, but unfortunately he was forced to self-isolate himself having travelled in the same mini-bus that took team mate Moeen Ali from the Mattala airport to the hotel. Moeen tested positive and Woakes having accompanied him was forced to isolate himself from the rest of the tour party.

That period of self-isolation saw Woakes miss a few practice sessions with the England squad preparing for the first Test against Sri Lanka and now finds himself not quite in contention for the all-rounder’s berth with another fast bowling all-rounder Sam Curran making a strong claim for that position.

“No symptoms of COVID thankfully. I kind of did start to worry a little bit but after checking myself to make sure I didn’t have any symptoms I am 100 percent fine,” said Woakes in a Zoom media conference yesterday.

As a quick bowlers who can bat Woakes has a very good chance of making a contribution in the series against Sri Lanka.

“Whether I will be in the starting eleven is out of my control. We play the all-rounders role Ben, myself and Sam Curran. I would like to push my case, try and force my way in. It’s a shame that I cannot do it in the first test because of the situation,” said Woakes.

Last summer Woakes strengthened his case as an all-rounder when he carried England to an exciting three-wicket win over Pakistan at Old Trafford, Manchester with an unbeaten 84 off 120 balls after half the side was out for 117 chasing a target of 277.

“It was one of the highlights of my test career especially with the bat. That knock against Pakistan strengthens my case really to score runs at 7 and 8 which is critical for the team. It will be ideal if I can show what I can do in the nets here scoring runs in these conditions against spin,” said Woakes.

He also has a Test century (137 n.o.) under his belt scored against India at Lord’s in 2018.

On the question of so many injuries to fast bowlers from Sri Lanka and India getting injured during their series in South Africa and Australia, Woakes said, “There is always injuries with this busy international schedules. 

“That’s where your fitness, nutrition, and awareness comes into play, to try and look after yourselves and do the right things I am not sure in the case with the Sri Lankan guys. That is something you have to keep an eye on. Especially fast bowlers they always have niggles and they must try and reduce the risk as much as possible by doing the right things.”

Woakes said that it was going to be tough playing in Sri Lanka and he expected the home team to fare much better than they did in South Africa.

“It’s hard to read to what’s happened to them in South Africa in the two-match series. Very different conditions they are very good in their own as most teams are. For the English side coming here it is very tricky. It is a very different style of cricket to play, lots of spin, the conditions and the heat. 

“It’s always going to be a tough test. The Sri Lankans may have been beaten by South Africa but in their own conditions they are always going to be tricky to play against.  We are really excited by the challenge,” said Woakes.

The 31-year-old all-rounder from Birmingham, Warwickshire said that it was a shame to play cricket without spectators on a picturesque venue like the Galle International Cricket Stadium.

“It’s a great place to play cricket. It’s a shame there is no crowd, the last time we toured we had the support of the Barmy Army. The situation in the world is such that we are getting used to playing without fans. It’s a big shame not to have our fans or the locals supporting us.”



Batting coach Flower confident Kusal Mendis will bounce back