England all-rounder Chris Woakes was delighted to overcome the frustration of injury and then sitting out victory over India on his home ground in Edgbaston with a superb first Test century at Lord’s on Saturday. (MATCH REPORT)
The 29-year-old, batting at No 7, was 120 not out after joining Jonny Bairstow to counter India’s bowlers, who had reduced the hosts to 131/5 after lunch on Day 3. (DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS)
Woakes, who dismissed India skipper Virat Kohli to send the visitors crashing to 107 all out in 35.2 overs on Friday, played shots all around (18 fours) as India bowlers struggled once the ball got old with the pitch easing out.
“It’s a sweet day. It has been a frustrating summer so far, missing quite a bit of cricket,” said Woakes, who was out due to a quadricep injury suffered in the Leeds Test against Pakistan in June.
“I could never really have dreamt of scoring a hundred in my comeback Test,” he said. “With five or six weeks out injured, you’re watching the boys all summer and you want to be out there. Whenever there’s a Test match on at Edgbaston, you want to be a part of it.
“I definitely felt my body was ready (here), and from a mental side of things I was ready to play.”
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With Sam Curran having shone in Edgbaston, Woakes got a place in the starting eleven only due to the absence of all-rounder Ben Stokes, facing trial for affray in a Bristol court. The team management picked him ahead of off-spinner Moeen Ali after rain changed conditions.
“Coming in in place of Ben Stokes, it’s quite big shoes to fill,” he said. “But you try not to think about that – I don’t try to play like him, I play like myself, try to do my job for the team.”
Woakes is playing in his third Test at Lord’s, where he has a good record. The last two came in 2016. He hit 66 in a draw against Sri Lanka and then took 11 wickets against Pakistan, though England lost.
“I don’t know if it’s the surface, conditions or I’ve just hit form at the right time. When it gets overcast here, the ball does move around – and that slope just does add a little (extra) dimension to the game.”
Woakes, playing in his first Test since the birth of his daughter last month, was doubly delighted he dismissed India skipper Virat Kohli on Day 2.
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“We all know how good Virat is, a world-class player, No 1 in the Test rankings. He’s the king-pin in India’s line-up. Particularly yesterday, with the ball moving around, it felt like it was a really good opportunity to try to get him out early.
“Once he gets in, he’s very difficult to get out, so I was delighted.”
Woakes however forgot to celebrate the birth of his daughter last month.
“The lads did ask me actually where was the baby celebration,” he said, mimicking the cradling like footballers. “But for some reason, that wasn’t really on my mind.
“I didn’t really have any ideas of how I was going to celebrate, and didn’t really know how to – but I’m just delighted.
“It’s still a bit of a blur – 30 seconds of raising your bat feels literally like a blink of the eye. But it’s an incredible feeling.”
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He said initially Mohammed Shami in particular bowled tightly, but it was tough for bowlers. “There wasn’t a huge amount of turn there, so when the spinners were on we felt we’d done our job,” he said. “The ball got a little bit softer, it made it a bit easier.”
England haven’t decided on declaring, Woakes said.
“How much you can trust the forecast, I don’t know. If there is a little bit of rain around tomorrow, that might play into our hands. Bit overcast, bit of moisture around, we hope it might move around like it did (on Friday).
“I’m sure it won’t quite do that – but with a significant lead, whenever we do come to bowl, we hope we can put the Indian batsmen under pressure.”
First Published: Aug 12, 2018 08:59 IST