Chris Woakes joins elite club with 100 wickets, 1,000+ runs

Chris Woakes doesn’t have the build of Andrew Flintoff or the X-factor of Ben Stokes, but he is lethal at home. A master of the Dukes ball.

Chris Woakes celebrates during the final day of the second Test at Old Trafford.   -  Getty Images

One often tends to ignore the utility of Chris Woakes. He is overshadowed by the x-factor of Ben Stokes and the glamour of the superstar duo, Stuart Broad and James Anderson. But truth be told, this English seam-bowling all-rounder is a master of the Dukes ball; perhaps a legend in the making.

On Monday, as England beat the West Indies in Manchester to level the three-Test series 1-1, Woakes became the third-fastest English cricketer to claim 100 wickets [match haul of 5-76] besides 1,000+ runs in red-ball cricket. His bat did not disturb the scorers in this Test.

The 31-year-old achieved the feat in 34 Tests; only Ian Botham (21 Tests) and Maurice Tate (33) took fewer Tests. Broad is right after Woakes at 35 Tests. Both Stokes and Andrew Flintoff took 43 Tests to get to the milestone. Overall, 71 Test players have scored 1,000+ runs along with 100+ wickets and Woakes is the 19th-fastest to taste the all-round success.

The Warwickshire cricketer doesn’t have the build of Flintoff or Botham but the ball talks and the bat delivers in unusual situations. However, when it comes to chopping and changing, he is an easy victim. It is mostly due to his erratic overseas average and a dodgy knee. There is, of course, the obsession about the pace of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.

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Woakes has been managing his knee for over eight years. The ever-smiling lad hardly gets angry. He quietly goes about his business but the top-class performances are overlooked. How many of you are aware that he is 101 ODI’s old? Not only that, he had claimed the ‘Player of the Match’ award in the World Cup semifinal against Australia in 2019 and played a crucial role in the dramatic final against New Zealand at Lord’s. People only talk about Stokes from that epic contest, but Woakes did as much to win the Cup.

Runs with the bat

Test opportunities were limited for Woakes but he has always chipped in with runs down the order. Two years ago, the match-winning 137 [not out] against India at Lord’s in 2018 batting at No. 7 had turned the tide for England.

Former England seamer Darren Gough (in picture) believes Chris Woakes could be the leader of the English attack in the future. - V. V. KRISHNAN

 

Former England paceman Darren Gough, who was bowling consultant of the side last winter, has backed Woakes alongside Anderson and Broad. He went a step further saying that the Birmingham boy could be the leader of the attack in the future. “In typical English conditions, the way I would’ve done it is, rotated Anderson, Broad and Woakes — always two out of the three — and then have one of Wood or Archer.

“I would rest Wood and Anderson at Old Trafford and bring in Broad and Woakes,” Gough had told Sky Sports ahead of the second Test. And he was right in predicting the combination. Yet again, Stokes stole the thunder by contrasting performances with the bat — a classical hundred [176 off 356 balls] followed by a 36-ball 50 in the second innings, when England needed to score faster for an early declaration. Woakes remained the unsung hero.

In the tour of New Zealand and South Africa last season, Woakes had shown improvement with match-hauls of 4-95 and 3-85 in Hamilton and Johannesburg respectively and one can only hope that he will make it better.

The Test series against West Indies is Woakes’ 10th at home and England has lost none in the nine encounters so far.

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