Cricket - Woakes puts himself into contention

Chris Woakes is hoping his relevant experience pays off as he targets a place in all three formats for England in New Zealand.

PA Sport
Cricket - Woakes puts himself into contention
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England's Chris Woakes

Tim Bresnan's stubborn elbow injury has helped to create a possible vacancy for a back-up seam bowler who can also bat, and Woakes appears to fit that bill perfectly. The 23-year-old's first opportunity here may come in the shortest format, two Twenty20 warm-up fixtures in Whangerei to be followed by three matches against New Zealand.

Woakes took the sensible step last November of signing for Wellington and going on to play two first-class and three Twenty20 matches with them. "I came out here trying to get used to conditions before Christmas and get some cricket under my belt. I hope that'll stand me in good stead," he said.

"The pitches here are quite bouncy and generally quite true, not so English-like in terms of seam movement."

After he and his fellow bowlers were restricted to only fielding drills and then batting throw-downs by a succession of showers on a cloudy morning at the Cobham Oval, Woakes was unable to test the knowledge he has so far accrued for his frontline skills in New Zealand conditions.

But he has every right to hope there will be plenty more opportunities, after being selected in the squads for all three formats here over the next two months.

"I probably wasn't expecting to be in all three squads at the start of the winter. But that's the way it is, and I'm obviously delighted. I'm really looking forward to it."

Ashley Giles' recent elevation from selector to England limited-overs coach can do Woakes' prospects no harm, since Warwickshire's former Ashes-winning spinner has seen many of the emerging all-rounder's best moments so far.

Woakes has six first-class hundreds on his CV, no mean feat for a frontline bowler regularly batting down at number eight. England have taken due notice, and his readiness to undertake that reconnaissance trip to New Zealand is another tick in the box.

"It's nice to have Gilo here," he said. "I spent five years with him at Warwickshire. From a confidence point of view, it's great to be in all three squads."

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