Chris Woakes made a good enough impression on England's tour of Australia for it to be clear that a strong start to the domestic season would put him at the forefront of the national selectors' minds as they prepare for the coming series against Sri Lanka.
The 22-year-old Warwickshire all-rounder hit the winning runs on his international Twenty20 debut in Adelaide and took six for 59, albeit in a losing cause, at Brisbane in the second of his three appearances in 50-over internationals.
He was not selected for England's World Cup squad but is already pushing for inclusion again after two headline performances in the early County Championship action.
Woakes hit a run-a-ball 129 and took nine wickets in the match as his county demolished pre-season Championship favourites Somerset at Taunton nine days ago and followed that with a match-winning six for 49 in an 88-run defeat of Worcestershire at New Road on Saturday. It will put him under the spotlight again when Warwickshire seek to make it three wins from three matches against Durham in Chester-le-Street, starting tomorrow, when he will be eager to outshine another budding England all-rounder, the 19-year-old Durham tyro, Ben Stokes.
Of England's three national selectors, no one is more aware of Woakes's talent, of course, than Ashley Giles, who is also Warwickshire's director of cricket. But Giles said at the weekend that he feels it would be wrong to push Woakes too far, too quickly.
The infrequent availability of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott almost cost Warwickshire their First Division status last season and any perceived reluctance to recommend Woakes for further England duty could expose Giles to awkward questions, but he is adamant that the Birmingham-born player should develop in his own time.
"Chris is definitely an England player for the future but he must not be rushed," Giles said. "You don't want him to go searching for that extra yard of pace at the expense of what he has already – swing at decent pace and great control."
Giles might be tempted to put another name forward as England begin to consider life after Andrew Strauss, who turned 34 last month.
Varun Chopra, the former England Lions captain and opening batsman, left Essex to join Warwickshire for the 2010 campaign but had a relatively quiet first season with the Midlands county, missing half their programme because of a broken hand.
After a winter spent working to perfect an upright, balanced stance at the crease, Chopra has begun the new season with two double hundreds, the first in Warwickshire history to achieve the feat in consecutive matches.
After two rounds of matches, Warwickshire are joint top of the First Division table with Lancashire, after Durham – who had begun with a draw against Hampshire and a victory over Yorkshire – slipped to a home defeat to Sussex, for whom 20-year-old left-hander Luke Wells, son of former county stalwart Alan Wells, hit a maiden Championship century.
Middlesex, who finished last but one last season, lead the early Second Division table after half-centuries from Gareth Berg and Ollie Rayner enabled them to complete a three-wicket win over Derbyshire.Reuse content