England in the West Indies: Chris Woakes dismisses fitness fears ahead of his return for third ODI

The 29-year-old was also unavailable throughout the recent Test series in the Caribbean, raising doubts about his readiness to take a lead role in a demanding World Cup campaign this summer

Rory Dollard
St George’s
Sunday 24 February 2019 19:02
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Jonathan Liew wraps up England's 2-1 series defeat in the West Indies

Chris Woakes will return for the third match of England’s one-day series against the West Indies, insisting there are no fears over his long-term fitness.

Woakes has been battling a long-standing tendon issue in his right knee and was rested from the series-levelling defeat in Barbados, with England keen not to put him through two games in three days.

The 29-year-old was also unavailable throughout the recent Test series in the Caribbean, raising doubts about his readiness to take a lead role in a demanding World Cup campaign this summer.

Woakes will resume new-ball duty in Grenada on Monday and played down concerns over his condition.

“Of course people are going to ask those questions when you get rested from a game and you’ve not played much cricket, I understand that, but in my own mind I’m fine,” he said.

“By no means do I feel I’m coming to the end. It’s something I’ve had to manage for the past six, seven, eight years and not something I’m overly worried about. A lot of people call it tendinopathy, tendinitis... it’s just a dodgy knee from too much bowling. But it’s not a concern.

“It comes with the territory. Of course it’s in the back of my mind but I’m keeping it in the right place, keeping the rest of my body in good condition and doing everything I can to stay fit.

“If something freak happens and I break down, well that’s part of professional sport. But I feel fit now and I’m good to go.”

There is no doubt England are a stronger team with Woakes on board. He is one of the world’s most effective powerplay bowlers, a talented lower-order batsman and came off well in his head-to-head with the dangerous Chris Gayle in Bridgetown.

Woakes has been battling a long-standing tendon issue

The 39-year-old finished with 135 in that match, including a dozen sixes, but managed only nine singles from the 15 deliveries he faced from Woakes.

“Up front he hasn’t got away from us, we’ve got a lot of dot balls on him,” said the Warwickshire all-rounder.

“Don’t get me wrong, that’s not always the way he plays. It has been in the first two ODIs but we’ve played games against him where he’s gone from ball one. You need to expect the unexpected with him.

“He can easily come out and try and hit you for six from the first few balls. Dot balls are great but at the same time we want to be getting him out.

“We’re looking at a few different plans to try and get him a bit earlier because when he gets in, he’s destructive. It’s exciting to watch unless you’re bowling.”

Darren Bravo will win his 100th cap for the Windies in St George’s, a milestone that once looked out of reach during a two-year international exile.

Now fully reintegrated, the classy left-hander praised Gayle for his influence on his team-mates.

“The experience of having Chris in the dressing room is priceless. He puts a smile on each and every player’s face,” he said.

“He’s not even a hero, he’s a legend. He’s a special player and we’re really happy to have him.”

As for his own return to favour, Bravo added: “I was quietly confident I’d be back and it’s a great feeling indeed to achieve 100 games. Hopefully I can contribute to a winning cause.”

PA

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