Ben Stokes lauds player of the series Chris Woakes after England earn Ashes draw

Ben Stokes paid a glowing tribute to Chris Woakes after England’s perennial unsung hero walked away as the leading man of this summer’s Ashes.

Woakes’ outstanding career has often played out in the considerable shadow of the record-breaking duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad but, when it came to handing out the prestigious Compton-Miller Medal for player of the series, it was his turn to take the acclaim.

The 34-year-old was not picked for the first two Tests, both of which Australia won, but breathed fresh life into the contest after returning to the side and inspired the hosts to a 2-2 draw.

He starred with the ball at Headingley, Old Trafford and the Oval, collecting 19 wickets at a miserly average of 18.14 and bolstered the lower order with a couple of important cameos.

Woakes was the spark behind England’s fifth-day triumph in the final Test, taking four for 50 in a sustained spell of high-class seam bowling, and his contribution was key to denying the outright series victory Australia craved.

Already beloved by his team-mates, who know him as ‘the Wizard’, he now has an achievement to match the esteem they hold him in and nobody was happier than Stokes.

“I think to play three games and walk away with man of the series proves how good a cricketer Woakesy is. Has that ever been done before?” the England skipper said.

“He’s a massive team man and he should never be underestimated for his contributions to English cricket. He might not have got the opportunities people might think he should have but that’s purely because he’s been playing in the era of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

“Every time he has walked out for England he’s given absolutely everything. This series in particular is something he’ll be very proud of for what he’s managed to achieve and I’m very proud of him too, for coming in and putting in these performances.

“The way in which Woakesy has come in, not just with the ball but with crucial runs down at eight, has been really good for us. He’s been a massive part of the reason we are sitting here talking about why we’ve drawn the series 2-2 after being 2-0 down.”

Stokes attempted to share those exact sentiments with his fellow all-rounder when he finally took a breather after leaving Australia eight down – allowing the retiring Broad to finish things off in a dream finish – and got short shrift.

“When he stopped bowling I just said to him ‘you’ve been a massive reason we’re in this position right now’ but he wasn’t having a bar of it,” Stokes added. “He just said ‘let’s finish the job and get it done’. He’s been awesome for us. Just a quality cricketer.”

Woakes missed the first year of the ‘Bazball’ revolution due to injury problems and admitted finding his way back into the Test set-up in time to tangle with the Australians was a prime motivator.

“I’ve not been a part of this squad and team for over 12 months, so I was desperate to get back in and have a go,” he told BBC Sport.

“When you come into an Ashes series you want to perform and contribute to wins and I couldn’t have asked for it to go much better really. This is up there as one of my favourite moments in the series and probably up there with my best moments. This is the pinnacle of Test cricket so it is amazing.”