All-rounder Chris Woakes hopes to force his way into England's Test team in time for next year's third Ashes match at Old Trafford after starring with the bat for the Lions on day two of the unofficial four-day Test against Australia A at the same venue.
It is 51 weeks until the Test begins in Manchester. With this fixture being played on the Test wicket, it is a dress rehearsal for Old Trafford as well as Warwickshire's Woakes, who underpinned England's first innings score of 315 with an excellent 92 from number seven in the order before tea on day two.
Woakes hit his third first-class century of 2012 to take him beyond 400 runs and post an impressive average of 88.6. He arrived at the crease with the Lions on 142 for five and helped them recover from 223 for seven by marshalling the tail. "I'm obviously aspiring to play Test cricket for England, so fingers crossed it's not the last time I play at Old Trafford," admitted the 23-year-old.
"Hopefully next time it's in a Test match. When I first went in, it was quite tricky and offering a bit for everyone. There was turn and bounce for the spinners, but it seems to have died a bit as the day's gone on.
"My batting's something that I work hard on. It's got better the more I've played, the more I've matured as a cricketer. My bowling's been more natural to me since I started the game but the more I've worked at my batting over the last few years I feel like I've improved."
Woakes performed against an attack including current Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon and left-arm swing bowler Mitchell Johnson, who is returning from a lengthy injury lay-off.
Johnson led the way for the tourists with figures of four for 47 from 26.1 overs before his skipper Ed Cowan underpinned a strong reply of 127 for one at close with 77 not out.
"It's nice to score runs against international quality bowlers," said Woakes.
"Johnson's been there and done it at the highest level even though he's not in their team at the minute. It definitely gives you confidence that you have scored runs against those guys.
"It felt like he hit his straps well. On the first morning he did that too. He didn't give any freebies. He found a good line, took the ball away from the right-handers and was hard to score off."