Chris Woakes: Warwickshire and England's rising star

April 27, 2017

Cricket lovers booking corporate hospitality at Edgbaston this summer have lots to look forward to, whether it is the ICC Champions Trophy matches, Warwickshire's Natwest T20 blast encounters or the historic first ever day-night Test match in England.

A common feature of those occasions may be the presence of Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes, ‚Äčonce a player on the fringes of national selection but now an indispensable member of England's squad in all forms of the sport.

Woakes first played for England in the final Ashes Test of the summer of 2013 at the Kia Oval. He took just one wicket, although he was close to winning the winning the match with the bat at the end when bad light curtailed the game.

His early Tests continued to bring modest returns, with his fast-medium bowling producing early, rather than late, swing, make him easier for the top batsmen to play. However, over the last 18 months, his skills have grown markedly. Woakes now swings the ball later and has added a yard of pace. His first five-wicket haul in tests came against Pakistan at Lord's last summer when he picked up 6-70, adding 5-32 in the second innings to finish with a superb 11-102 in the match.

Not only did Woakes finish the series with 26 wickets; he also impressed with the bat last summer, scoring 66 against Sri Lanka at Lord's and 58 against Pakistan at Old Trafford.

With a Test batting average of 29.55 and a bowling average of 29.33, Woakes can make a case for being considered a Test all-rounder, something he may confirm with a Test century, although England's deep batting line-up means he often comes in at nine, so he often bats with the tail.

It is not just in Tests that Woakes has impressed. His versatility, accuracy with the ball and big hitting with the bat makes him a key member of the one-day side and his brilliant unbeaten 95 at Trent Bridge against Sri Lanka early last summer helped England come back from a hopeless position of 82-6 chasing 287 to win, although it was Liam Plunkett's final-ball six that tied the match.

That innings earned Woakes the man-of-the-match award and remains his highest one-day international score - for now.

Recognition has not been slow in coming. Woakes was recently named as one of Wisden's five cricketers of the year in 2016, while his skills with the white ball have earned him a lucrative contract in the Indian Premier League with Kolkata Knight Riders. He has also played in Australia's Big Bash League with Sydney Thunder.

Having just turned 28, Chris Woakes is now in the peak years of his career. Having taken 48 Test wickets to date, he can have realistic hopes of taking well over 200.

Fans at the Edgbaston Test match this summer will be keen to see how many he can take with the pink ball. One thing is for sure; when England are in town these days, Chris Woakes is never far from the action.

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