Warwicks fear losing Woakes to national service for title run-in

Hampshire 141 & 163-4 Warwickshire 250
Click to follow
The Independent Online

While somerset and Lancashire worry about how the weather might influence their title prospects with less than a month left in the race, Warwickshire's anxieties are directed more towards the England selectors.

Without Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott for much of the summer, they have stayed in contention against expectations. Yet they might still be undermined by Geoff Miller and company after Chris Woakes added more weight to his claims here yesterday.

The 22-year-old followed his career-best 7 for 20 on Thursday by making the highest score in either first innings as Warwickshire established a lead of 109. England name their squad today for the one-day match against Ireland next Thursday. The list for the one-day series against India is announced next Saturday.

Given that Woakes was in the squad for one-day games against Sri Lanka in June and July, albeit playing only in the Twenty20 match, it is hard to imagine he is not in the frame. Warwickshire supporters can only hope that Tim Bresnan, who missed the Sri Lanka series through injury, might be given the nod at his expense and leave Woakes still waiting to add to the three one-day internationals he played in Australia last winter.

Otherwise, he stands to miss all four of Warwickshire's remaining Championship matches, the first of which, against Yorkshire at Headingley next week, will already see them without Will Porterfield and Boyd Rankin, who are in the Ireland party.

Losing Woakes could be a telling blow. More than anyone, he has given impetus to Warwickshire's surge towards the top of the table as they chase a first title in seven years. In addition to his 45 Championship wickets, he has 470 runs, only 25 short of his highest seasonal aggregate from less than half the games. His average is an impressive 47.00.

He clearly enjoys facing Hampshire, against whom he has scored 353 runs in five first-class innings, including two of his four centuries, and been out only once. He has still to surrender his wicket to a Hampshire bowler. Yesterday, looking to add a quick single to his 11 boundaries, he was run out at the bowler's end for 64 as Chris Wood scored a direct hit from mid-off.

It was not a flawless innings – he escaped two difficult chances before he had reached fifty – but meritworthy in context. It is a pitch, with no great pace, that has demanded accuracy from the bowlers but with enough in it to reward those hitting a good line and length. After Warwickshire, four down overnight, had slipped to 113 for 6, Woakes shared an important partnership of 73 with Tim Ambrose, who made 55 before driving airily at Sean Ervine to be caught behind.

Keith Barker chipped in with a valuable 28 before delivering a much improved performance with the ball that claimed the first three wickets in Hampshire's second innings. He denied Michael Carberry a half-century but by then the visitors were in front and will be looking to build substantially on that lead today.