Chris Woakes pays tribute to bowling rivals Stuart Broad and James Anderson

Chris Woakes believes his England career has been extended rather than obstructed in the shadows of the evergreen James Anderson and outgoing Stuart Broad.

A double World Cup winner with an outstanding Test record on home soil, Woakes has nevertheless found himself frequently playing second fiddle to England’s record-breaking seamers in the longest format.

Injury issues have also played their part but, after more than a year out of the side, Woakes had his moment in the sun after a starring role in the Ashes, where his 19 wickets at a phenomenal average of 18.14 in the final three Tests went a long way to helping England claim a hard-fought 2-2 series draw.

His input – there were also a couple of key cameos with the bat – meant he walked off with the prestigious Compton-Miller Medal for player of the series despite not featuring in the first two Tests.

Broad attracted much of the fanfare in his final Test but while his retirement leaves the door ajar, Woakes only had warm words for how much he has learned from the now ex-fast bowler and Anderson.

“The last three weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind and it’s just amazing to be a part of,” Woakes said. “I think I’m just proud of myself to be able to keep going.

“I feel very lucky to have played with Stuart. Jimmy’s the same. The stuff that I’ve learned from them has had a huge impact on how I’ve bowled about over the years. It’s been an honour.

“It’s extended my international career, if anything. We won’t know what would have been if they hadn’t been around, but I only have good things to say in terms of the knowledge they’ve passed on.”

James Anderson, left, and Stuart Broad are England's leading Test wicket-takers (Martin Rickett/PA)
James Anderson, left, and Stuart Broad are England’s leading Test wicket-takers (Martin Rickett/PA)

Woakes, who was once regarded as the successor to 41-year-old Anderson, wants a more senior role after Broad’s exit and should be a shoo-in in England owing to an average of 21.88 in home conditions.

But that climbs to 51.88 from a not-inconsiderable 20 Tests overseas, so he was understandably cautious about his expectations of being on the plane to India for England’s next assignment in the new year.

“I think that’s a question for another day,” he said. “Let’s let this sink in. I have no idea. We all know my record away from home, so I think we’ll come to that if it happens.

“I want to play for England for as long as possible. Still, for me, playing international cricket is the pinnacle. You want to be a part of days like (the last day of the fifth Ashes Test).

“You don’t get it anywhere else, so you want this to last for as long as possible whilst you’re still performing.

“I think it’s important that the older guys in the team do pass on the knowledge to younger guys coming through. There’s a big thing to be said for that.”

Woakes won player of the match at the Kia Oval after bagging seven wickets in the Test, as England levelled the series – all the more remarkable given he was nursing a grade one quad tear.

“A tiny, tiny one,” he said. “I felt it in over 10 (in Australia’s first innings) and I was a bit worried because it was the first innings and I thought ‘oh, no, it could be going’.

“But then I ended up bowling 25 in the first innings and it disappeared. It’s one of them. I’ve had the physio on it all week. To get through made it all worthwhile.”

Woakes thought a knee injury he sustained on his last Test assignment in the Caribbean in March 2022 might have ended his career and reflected with incredulity at how his fortunes have turned.

Ben Stokes has had a longstanding knee injury for some time (Mike Egerton/PA)
Ben Stokes has had a longstanding knee injury for some time (Mike Egerton/PA)

“The way my knee felt, I wasn’t sure if I was going to play cricket again,” he said. “At no point did I think I’d be stood here now with with what I’ve achieved. It’s pretty incredible to think about.”

Woakes had an operation last summer to correct the problem and was asked if he could pass on his surgeon’s number to skipper Ben Stokes, who has been battling through a longstanding issue in his own knee.

“I’m sure if there’s a surgeon to be seen, he will be seeing my surgeon,” Woakes added. “Andy Williams is the best. He’s done an amazing job. He’s done two ops on my knee and thankfully I’m still here.

“But I think Stokes’ issue is probably slightly different to what I had.”