All-round Woakes overcomes a summer of frustration

Right-hander’s maiden Test century flattens India in the second Test

The last time Chris Woakes replaced Ben Stokes in the England side during the 2014 series at home against India, he gave a good account of himself but sadly couldn’t sustain his place in the side.

Drafted in as a like-for-like replacement, Woakes was used more as a third seamer, meant to fill in the gaps when ace pacers James Anderson and Stuart Broad needed a breather. He batted low down the order and his role was to go out there and bludgeon the ball. He didn’t fare badly in the support cast role but owing to strong competition and a succession of injuries, the 29-year-old just couldn’t get a consistent run.

Even now, Woakes was summoned simply because Stokes had to attend an affray trial. But this time he’s made such an impact that even if Stokes comes away scot-free from his hearing, the England selectors will be forced to make a difficult choice of dropping him.

Joining forces with Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s on Saturday, Woakes slammed a power-packed unbeaten 120 (159 balls, 18x4) — his maiden Test century — to take the game completely away from the Indians. This came after he produced a superb performance with the ball on Friday evening, bagging 2/19 in six eventful overs which also included the prized wicket of Virat Kohli.

“Coming in place of Ben Stokes, it's quite big shoes to fill,” said Woakes, grinning from ear to ear, at the press conference on Saturday. “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, and thankfully I've done that so far.”

Woakes got a call-up to the Test side just after he had recovered from quad and knee problems which has plagued the majority of his career. The right-hander felt the century wiped away a summer of pain for him. “It has been a frustrating summer so far, missing quite a bit of cricket. I was over the moon to get the call to be back in the squad.

I could never really have dreamt of scoring a hundred in my comeback Test. With five or six weeks out injured, you're watching the boys all summer and you want to be out there. I definitely felt my body was ready (here), and from a mental side of things I was ready to play.”

Woakes would now be wanting to add to his tally of two wickets and play an integral role in an England win.

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