Modern players used to jumping formats, says Woakes ahead of two-Test series
Chris Woakes is hoping to carry his ODI form back into Test cricket to help England finish their arduous winter on a high
England face a significant challenge over the final three weeks of this marathon winter to arrest the decline of their overseas Test match fortunes.
Chris Woakes exemplifies the task awaiting the tourists in a two-Test series against New Zealand, which begins with a day-night fixture in Auckland.
Since their memorable series victory in South Africa in 2015/16, England have won just one Test on their travels – against Bangladesh – and under incumbent captain Joe Root and his predecessor Alastair Cook, have lost eight of their last 10.
In the same time frame, their one-day international form both home and away has been imperious.
They followed this winter’s 4-0 Ashes defeat by beating Australia 4-1 in ODIs – and then after a disappointing Twenty20 campaign, the 3-2 success against the Kiwis which Woakes and others wrapped up on Saturday was a sixth consecutive 50-over series victory.
Woakes was one of the driving forces, his 10 wickets at the cost of just 20.30 runs each earning him a man-of-the-series accolade.
His ODI deeds over the past two months are a stark contrast, however, with Ashes struggles which brought him 10 wickets too but at an average of almost 50.
He is not alone either, as the majority of England’s select multi-format contingent have fallen short in away Tests of late.
It is a disconnect in need of attention, but Woakes is relishing his latest chance to put things right.
“As a modern player, you should be used to jumping formats,” he said.
“There shouldn’t be too many excuses … I am in good rhythm and hope the transition is smooth.”
Root’s team will not be under-estimating hosts who pushed England hard before the tourists trounced them by seven wickets in the ODI decider in Christchurch and whose man-for-man resources with bat and ball appear equally well-matched in Tests.
While others in Eoin Morgan’s ODI squad headed home, some via the United Arab Emirates for short stints at the Pakistan Super League, Woakes is one of six who have instead undertaken a shorter journey from New Zealand’s South Island to the North for a week of preparation alongside England’s newly-arrived specialists in Hamilton.
Anticipating the switch back to five-day mode, Woakes added: “It is always a test, but I’m looking forward to it.
“New Zealand will be tough to beat.
“I’m excited – I’m sure it will be a great series.”
I’m absolutely fine with it … as long as when I have a bad day you are kind to me and I go under the radar again! Chris Woakes
Reflecting on his sterling ODI efforts, Woakes is at ease with the reality that – despite his undoubted value to the team – others often grab the headlines.
“I’m absolutely fine with it … as long as when I have a bad day you are kind to me and I go under the radar again!” he said.
“It’s just the way it is. Generally in ODI cricket, bowlers don’t get a huge amount of praise.
“We’d say it’s a batter’s game.
“When it’s flying everywhere and guys are playing knocks like Jonny (Bairstow)’s [hundred in Christchurch], or Ross Taylor’s [for New Zealand] the other day, they get the headlines.
“That first [ODI] game at Hamilton I had nine to defend (in the last over), and it was all over in two balls.
“As a bowler, you will sometimes be hero and sometimes zero.”
:: Taylor is unlikely to feature for a New Zealand XI in the second of two two-day matches against England in his home town Hamilton this week, as he recovers from the thigh injury which ruled him out of the final ODI.
New Zealand remain confident nonetheless that the lynchpin batsman will be fit again in time for the first Test in Auckland on March 22.