Chris Woakes is England’s highest-ranked bowler in ODIs, but was ruled out of the ICC Champions Trophy with an injury sustained after bowling just two overs in their opening fixture.
We caught up with him during England’s game against New Zealand at Cardiff at a Chance to Shine event to discuss the injury, the IPL, and whether he thinks Jason Roy will be back in the runs soon.
You must be gutted by the injury. How’s it looking?
It is a left side strain. There is a tear in the muscle, it’s a grade two injury. It’s not terrible news but it’s not great news at the same time. It’s likely to be four to six weeks until I’m back playing cricket, and I’m on day four or five right now so it’s still early days. The physios are saying that for the first 10-14 days there isn’t much we can do apart from rest it. The timing of it is terrible, but that’s one of those things in professional sport, injury happens.
What’s the time frame, with regards to the South Africa Tests?
I’m probably up against it for the first Test, but you never know with these things, sometimes they heal a bit quicker than you expect, sometimes it takes a bit longer. We do have to play it by ear to a certain extent, and it’s one of those things you can’t rush back, since it could ping again if you do. You’ve got to make sure you’re right before you come back, and there’s still plenty of cricket left this summer. It’s a very busy summer of cricket. I’m really disappointed, but it gives me a chance to get fit and strong and come back firing.
It must be really frustrating especially coming at the beginning of such a big tournament?
The thing that was really frustrating at the Oval was having come off the field having only bowled two overs, you know that you’re not gonna participate any more in the game, and you feel like you’re leaving your mates out there in the field with eight overs to fill in. That’s hard to take, but it was a good job the guys could get through the game unscathed and win it comfortably. It’s really disappointing because we’d been looking forward to this Champions Trophy for a while. We’d been in good form, and I’d been in particularly good form myself. When I came off the field, and the day or two after it was really frustrating, but it’s sunk in a bit now.
Do you think it’s possible that playing in the IPL contributed to your injury?
It’s a tricky one because I think the experience of going out and playing the IPL is almost invaluable. We’ve all come back and said how good it was for our games. It is a tough tournament, it’s been squeezed this year so it’s a little bit tighter than it usually is, but at the same time it’s only T20, so you’ve just got to weigh up the pros and the cons. If I hadn’t gone I would have had a little bit of a break, but then I’d have been back into county cricket and potentially playing three four-day games which would have been a heavy workload on the body as well.
Andrew Strauss mentioned that it was kind of a risk worth taking to a certain extent because you’ll hopefully come back a better player. I feel like I’ve come back a better player, and Stokesy had such a good tournament; had he not gone he wouldn’t have had that experience, that confidence that he’s come back with, and he might not be as good a player as he is now.
Can you pinpoint the source of the improvement that you gained from the IPL?
It’s a mixture of everything really. Mostly it’s that I’ve been put in those pressure situations. It’s high-pressure cricket, as high a pressure as you’ll feel other than international cricket in my opinion. I think the cricket is of a high standard and also it’s in conditions that we’re not used to, which is also testing for us.
That’s where I think most of the improvements are, and we’ll be better off the next time we go to the sub-continent and have to perform in those conditions. The thing that shouldn’t be taken for granted is how much you’re put under in the games. They very much are high-profile games, and you particularly feel under pressure as an overseas player with just four slots available.
You were called back for England duty before the playoffs. Do you fancy playing a whole season next year?
It’s early days isn’t it? I’m not up to date on how the whole auction works and all that business. I know everyone’s got to go back in the pot, so it’s a bigger auction, and I’m not sure what England’s and the county schedule is next year. It’s early days to say I’ll definitely be going, but if I was given the opportunity to go again I’d definitely take it and try and make the most of it, because I feel like I’ve benefitted from it and I really enjoyed the cricket out there.
Jason Roy didn’t get as much game time in the IPL as you or Stokes, and has come back struggling a bit. Are you backing him to get back into form soon?
Whenever you’re out of runs and not quite firing as you’d like you’re always just that score away. I think he just needs to get to 25 or 30 really and then he’ll be away, and he’s the sort of player that once he’s away he’ll be very hard to stop. Eoin’s backed him since the tournament started and rightly so in my opinion. He’s been so good for us in the last 18 months and in the way we’ve changed our guard almost, in the way we play one-day cricket, he’s been right at the forefront of that. It helps that Alex Hales is playing really well at the top of the order as well. But I think Jason is the sort of character that once he gets past that barrier of a low score, he’s the sort of player that once he gets to 30, opposition bowlers have to be worried that he’s going to score 150 and those are the sort of players you want in your team.
Obviously there is somewhere else you’d rather be but at least there are other things to be getting on with like today with Chance to Shine. How important is it to see all these kids getting into sport and cricket in particular?
It’s great to be here and give something back. It would be nice to be somewhere else, particularly today in Cardiff, but it’s nice to be able to help out Chance to Shine. It’s a great charity doing good things for kids in state schools. It’s great to see kids being involved in cricket because I went to a state school and never had any sort of cricket at school, it was all through club cricket. It’s great they can play in a secure environment with their friends and be coached by people who know what they’re talking about. I don’t think there was anyone in the room without a smile on their face.