England’s Chris Woakes admits his hopes of facing Sri Lanka in first Test are ‘quite slim’

England’s Chris Woakes admits his hopes of facing Sri Lanka in first Test are ‘quite slim’

January 12, 2021

Chris Woakes admits his enforced isolation due to Covid-19 concerns has probably cost him the chance to stake a claim for the all-rounder’s slot in England’s first Test against Sri Lanka.

Woakes has only just returned to training after being identified as a close contact with team-mate Moeen Ali – who tested positive for the virus on arrival in Sri Lanka – with both players confined to their hotel rooms.

With Ben Stokes absent from the squad following the recent death of his father and Moeen now likely to miss both Tests in the series, Woakes had been optimistic of securing the all-rounder’s role for the first Test in Galle.

While the 31-year-old was given the all-clear to rejoin the squad on Monday, he described his prospects of playing as ‘quite slim’, with Sam Curran expected to get the nod when the Test gets under way on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Cricket.

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“I’m up against it in terms of time,” said Woakes. “I only had my first bowl yesterday and the other guys have been bowling for nearly a week before me, which is obviously frustrating – it puts me back a little bit.

“The chances of me playing are probably quite slim. I haven’t played much cricket leading into this and it’d potentially be a risk. When I went on tour I was certainly hoping to force my way in.

“With no Stokesy, it kind of emphasises that all-rounder role and both myself and Sam Curran could potentially fill a slot in that XI to balance the team a bit. I was looking forward to trying to push my case.

“I’m still trying to do that, but it’s likely this week will come a bit too soon. But I’m looking forward to the rest of this series, I’ve got my head around the situation and I’ve just got to move on.

“We’ve got a busy schedule, with a lot of Tests ahead and there has been talk of rotation, of giving guys breaks at certain times. That’s not just from a physical point of view, it’s on the mental side as well.”

Woakes has yet to feature in a Test in Sri Lanka, having been an unused member of the squad when Joe Root’s side triumphed 3-0 on their last visit, just over two years ago.

But he underlined his value to the Test side during the summer, picking up a five-wicket haul against West Indies and hitting an unbeaten 84 against Pakistan to set up victories for the home side at Old Trafford.

Woakes is confident that his Test average, which currently stands at 27.52, can improve even further following the arrival of former South Africa star Jacques Kallis as England’s batting consultant.

“To have Kallis here with us is just brilliant,” he added. “I’m certainly in awe of him – I actually worked with him in the IPL at Kolkata Knight Riders in 2017 and it was fantastic to pick his brains there.

“Obviously to continue that here in conditions that are very foreign to us and for him to share his wealth of knowledge is fantastic.

“It’s a real compliment that we’re getting legends of the game even interested in working with us – it shows we’ve got such an exciting group of players, not just in the squad but in terms of depth as well.”

Watch the first Test between Sri Lanka and England, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4am on Thursday.

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