Chris Woakes says omission from England Test tour of India ‘a fair decision’

Chris Woakes is “at ease” with being left out of England’s Test tour of India in the new year.

Woakes collected the Compton–Miller Medal for player of the series in the Ashes, inspiring England’s comeback from 2-0 down to draw 2-2, but is surplus to requirements for the five-match series in India.

By the lofty standards he sets himself, the 34-year-old’s Test record overseas is modest as he averages 51.88 with the ball, exactly 30 runs per wicket higher than a superb resume at home.

Chris Woakes, right, helped England come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the Ashes (Martin Rickett/PA)
Chris Woakes, right, helped England come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the Ashes (Martin Rickett/PA)

Having been notified by England director of men’s cricket Rob Key and Test head coach Brendon McCullum ahead of time, Woakes is satisfied to focus on white-ball cricket for the next few months.

“It’s mixed emotions,” he said. “You’re always desperate to be in it, but at the same time, at my age, with my away record – particularly in the subcontinent – I feel like it’s a fair decision.

“We had conversations about where my best cricket is likely to be played moving forward and, naturally in Test cricket, it looks likely to be at home.

“It doesn’t mean to say that when there’s not subcontinent tours that I won’t be available, hopefully they’ll still potentially pick me in those.

“But I feel at ease with the decision, if that makes sense. The communication was good, I know where I stand so it’s fine by me.”

Woakes will instead go to the International League T20 in the United Arab Emirates, which starts in January, and hopes to be snapped up in the Indian Premier League auction for next year’s edition.

He was speaking in Barbados, having linked up with England ahead of their five T20s against the West Indies which act as reconnaissance for next year’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and United States.

His last visit to these parts in March 2022 was in the final throes of Joe Root’s captaincy, with a 1-0 Test loss compounded by a knee injury that needed surgery and left Woakes sidelined for several months.

“I wouldn’t want that to be the same case going to India, bowling on tracks which are unresponsive to my type of bowling,” Woakes said.

“Slamming the front knee down at 34 is not really ideal when I want to play a lot of white-ball cricket moving forward.

“It’s different when that’s just your sole focus, but when you want to play all forms, it makes it a wise decision.”

England are likely to omit Moeen Ali from their XI for the first T20 against the West Indies (John Walton/PA)
England are likely to omit Moeen Ali from their XI for the first T20 against the West Indies (John Walton/PA)

Despite being white-ball vice-captain, Moeen Ali seems set to be dropped by England in Tuesday’s opening T20, which marks the start of the International Cricket Council’s stop clock trial.

If a bowling team is not ready to start an over 60 seconds after the completion of the last one, they will be penalised five runs when it happens for a third time and on each occasion thereafter.

“We haven’t really spoken about it as of yet, but I’ve seen the idea of it and it kind of makes sense,” Woakes added. “It hopefully will speed the game up a little bit.

“When you’re out there in the middle, you don’t feel like you’re playing it slow, the game does feel fast. Guys might be taking drinks or swapping gloves and things, but the game does feel pretty quick.

“But we’re in the entertainment business and we need to make sure the viewers are happy as well. So I think it’s a good idea.”

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