Chris Woakes peaking at right time ahead of first Ashes Test
The all-rounder has taken 12 wickets in the last three innings as he aims to plug the gap left by Ben Stokes
Chris Woakes is confident his preparation for a maiden Ashes campaign in Australia is bang on course after his six-wicket haul in Townsville.
Woakes insisted last week in Adelaide he wanted to face a Cricket Australia XI again here, preferring in his words to be “over-cooked than under-cooked” for the first Test in Brisbane.
He finished with six for 54 on day one of four as the hosts reached 249 for nine at stumps, and declared afterwards that he is on target to peak at the Gabba.
“All the numbers are saying that I’m getting close to being ‘cooked’. I’m pleased with where I’m at,” he said.
“A week away from the first Test, it’s always nice to hit a bit of form. As a bowling unit, we feel like we’ve gone really well today.
“We want to continue to work on plans we might be taking into the Test series, and hope to bring about some confidence.”
Woakes’ summer at home was wrecked by a nasty side strain – and even after he was fit to return for the penultimate Test at Headingley, he was then dropped for the final match of the series against West Indies at Lord’s.
“I suppose whenever you’re left out of a Test team, you’re always dying to get back in it and prove your worth,” he said, adding that he is primed to help make up for the absence of his fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes on this tour.
Stokes is as yet unavailable, still at home waiting to hear if he will be charged with causing actual bodily harm after a late-night fracas in Bristol in September.
“With Ben being away, it means all of us have got to step up,” said Woakes.
“I hope I can do that – score runs and take wickets. That’s my plan and I feel like I’m building well into that Test series.”
There was an early reminder, from a small but vociferous crowd at the Tony Ireland Stadium, of the ‘welcome’ England are sure to receive from the home support next week.
“You always expect a little bit of that, heckling from the crowd – it’s the same when the Australians go to England,” said Woakes.
“It’s just part and parcel of it, and you have to deal with it. We did today, but I’m sure it will go up a notch going into the Gabba.”
They should at least be able to move on to Brisbane without any further injury problems, after wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow was diagnosed with just a bruised finger following an awkward take off Woakes’ bowling.
“I don’t think we were ever too worried,” said the seamer.
“I actually didn’t go down and see how he was, which was pretty bad from me. But the guys didn’t seem all that worried about him.
“Then the fact he came back out and kept later in the day means that, fingers crossed, there’s nothing to worry about.”
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