Sunday, 29 July 2012

Why not Woakes?

With Ravi Bopara missing the second Test match against South Africa due to personal problems and the fact that Jonny Bairstow is obviously not the man the England selectors want to take it to the frightfully impressive Proteas bowling attack, James Taylor finally gets a chance to show us what he can bring to the middle order. Is he the man for the job though?

The England Lions captain, Taylor, has been a future England star for some time now, impressing for the Lions with an average of 60 in his ten unofficial tests/first class matches for them. This season however Taylor has struggled to kick on and had fallen down the pecking order. Bairstow, Bopara and probably Nick Compton, the one man Southern rock band, all being favoured instead.

Taylor has turned things around and scored an impressive century at Derby and this week hit his first Championship hundred for his new county, Nottinghamshire, against Sussex. Let’s also not forget his superb skippering of the Lions against the touring West Indies back in May.

There is no doubting the lad’s ability. Being four foot and a fart he seems to play every ball as it’s short, punching deliveries through point and cover and pulling the ball as well as anybody. Add that to a sturdy defence and you can see he will become a good if not great Test match batsman.

My only concerns are that his one-day form has been more consistent and he has made 345 runs at 69 in the CB40. With England seeming to crave an extra bowler and go in with 5 seamers and lets’s not overlook we will now miss Bopara’s wobblers, I can’t help but feel an all-rounder is needed at 7. Matt Prior is no doubt a top class batsman in his own right.

So who should have come in for Bopara?

Chris Woakes

For me it is quite simple. Christopher Woakes. I have been a huge admirer of the Warwickshire man for some time now, ever since he took 6-45 in his second ODI.

While there has been no doubting his ability with the ball, Woakes has been impressing with the bat. A century at Edgbaston this week against a very good attack was his second in as many matches and his fifth in the championship.

Our good friend from Cricinfo, George Dobell tells us: “That means that, aged 23, he has scored as many or more championship centuries as specialist batsmen such as Eoin Morgan (three), William Porterfield (two) or Jonny Bairstow (also five).” He also states that Woakes has a better first class batting and bowling average than both Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan.

Woakes is an elegant batsman, one who can attack as well as anyone, Taylor included. He can also defend, knows where his off stump is, and can play a turgid innings when required.

All this sounds like the new Ian Botham doesn’t it? Praise indeed for a man who bats at number 8.


  1. As a bears fan im a little biased,but you are spot on,i hope England dont mess woakesey about,he gets a call to the Odi,T20 and Lions squads every time but only really plays for the Lions,he continues to step up whenever he is called on,he has also scored consecutive centuries from his low batting position and loads of wickets.
    I do rate Taylorthough so it is a tough call,but Ravi needs to be overlooked please

  2. Thanks Steve, I think Taylor will play for England for a long time to come. Maybe not yet though. The selectors have to pick based on what is needed rather than like for like. For me we need 5 bowlers. Woakes is the man. Also means that Finn can come in for Bresnan =)

  3. Been saying for a good while that I genuinely believe that Woakes can be a test all-rounder of the Botham/Flintoff/Kallis standard. He is absolutely pure class. The main reason he bats at 8 for Warwickshire seems to be to manage his workload, what with opening the bowling for us. If he bowled first change for England there'd be no reason he couldn't bat at 6 or 7 I think. I believe he'd bring a balance to the team that we seem to be missing. The only downside, from a Bears point of view would be that we'd miss him considerably, and then have 3 players being lost to England frequently!