England hero Woakes won’t take World Cup place for granted
The seamer took five wickets at Headingley but admits all of England’s hopefuls face an anxious wait.
Chris Woakes expects plenty of England players to be waiting nervously by the phone as decision day over the final World Cup squad draws to a close.
National selector Ed Smith will unveil the final 15 at Lord’s on Tuesday and, while Woakes removed any fraction of doubt about his place in the pecking order with a decisive five-wicket haul against Pakistan at Headingley, somebody is going to be disappointed.
David Willey looks most vulnerable, the left-armer likely to pay the price for Jofra Archer’s emergence having been named in the preliminary squad last month, but there is another tough call to make as well.
Joe Denly also featured in the provisional party and against Pakistan but has not quite nailed down his utility role as versatile batsman and back-up spin option. Despite not featuring in any squads this summer, Hampshire’s Liam Dawson is a more reliable bowler and could be a late draft.
“Everyone will be looking at their phones,” said Woakes after propelling the team to a 54-run win and 4-0 series sweep in Leeds.
“Everyone will be wary of that phone call. Even if you feel like you’ve got a good chance to being in the squad, until you hear it from selectors’ mouths, it’s not quite set in stone.
“As a player you’re still probably a little bit on edge, particularly with this 16 and 17 players because everyone has performed at some point over the series.
“In the last couple of years people have put in strong performances. It’s a tricky decision for selectors and I’m glad I’m not having to make that decision, but it has to be done I suppose. It’s certainly driven us forward in this series.”
Speaking after the fifth one-day international, which saw England set a new ground record of 351 for nine before dismissing the tourists for 297, captain Eoin Morgan admitted he was still unsure about who would miss out.
With six wins from six completed games thus far this summer, an expanded group has served the Dubliner consistently well and he will not be looking forward to thinning out the ranks.
Willey perhaps needed to do more than take one for 55 in his last nine-over audition but he does have a unique selling point as the only left-arm seamer in the squad. Denly and Dawson are essentially different answers to the same question too, complicating the deliberations.
“No, I don’t know the 15,” said Morgan.
“Every one of these guys should be proud of what we’ve achieved so far, the continuous improvement of performances throughout makes the selection meeting extremely difficult.
“But every single member of the 17-man squad here will play some role (at the tournament), due to the nature of injuries and illness and call-ups.”
Pakistan are also facing questions over the eventual make-up of their 15, having exceeded expectations with the bat but regressed with the ball and in the field.
Mohammad Amir and Shadab Khan are likely to be called after illnesses, but coach Mickey Arthur was keeping his cards close.
“Amir trained yesterday for the first time – the first time he was allowed to. If selected he’d be ready to go, but in in terms of selection we’ll talk tomorrow and finalise our squad,” he said.
“I take huge positives from this series. I thought our batting has gone to another level. Coming to England people said we were a 280 team and we dispelled that.
“But our bowling has been average at best and our fielding has been average at best.”