Warwickshire v Nottinghamshire, Edgbaston, 3rd day June 30, 2014

Warks alive after Woakes five

  shares 2

Warwickshire 343 and 61 for 2 require a further 228 runs to beat Nottinghamshire 406 and 225 (Jaques 79, Woakes 5-35)
Scorecard

Chris Woakes may never establish himself as an allrounder in the England Test side but, if he does not, it will be to Warwickshire's immense gain.

Woakes may be the perfect player for a county. Always on the verge of the international side, he remains high achieving and highly motivated. But, crucially, he also remains available for his club.

He has underlined his worth in this game. Following his 91 in Warwickshire's first innings, a contribution that was made with his side under pressure, he claimed five wickets in Nottinghamshire's second innings to earn an outside chance of an unlikely victory.

Woakes' reputation was built as a swing bowler. But, dangerous as he was in helpful conditions, the suspicion remained that he lacked the ammunition to damage the opposition when the ball did not swing. In short, he has been defined as a fine county bowler, but one lacking the pace to cut it in the conditions prevalent in Test cricket.

That is a reputation that may require re-evaluation. Here, in conditions offering him nothing, he claimed a five-wicket haul against a batting line-up containing three of the top four run-scorers in Division One this season (and six of the top 17) to keep his side's fourth-innings target just within reach. He is now averaging 18.61 with the ball this season.

Key to Woakes' improvement would appear to be increased control and a little extra pace. A combination of better use of his front arm and extra gym sessions has created a bowler with quite an armoury. As Alan Richardson, the Warwickshire bowling coach, said: "He has been able to seam it, swing it and hit good areas all day for a while. But now he can force people on to the back foot, too, he has even more options."

Woakes' first-class record is exceptional. A bowling average of 24.88 (with 15 five-wicket hauls) and a batting average of 38.50 (with eight centuries) compares favourably with that of Ben Stokes, who has a bowling average of 28.11 (with three five-wicket hauls) and a batting average of 35.17 (with nine centuries). As Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire director of cricket and England selector put it: "Warwickshire have got themselves a proper good cricketer on their hands. He has terrific stats, especially with the ball."

With little help from the conditions, Warwickshire concentrated on bowling straight and full in the hope of exploiting Nottinghamshire's impatience and just a touch of uneven bounce in the wicket.

While Phil Jaques, playing his final game before returning to Australia, and Alex Hales were together, it looked as if Nottinghamshire would stretch their lead well beyond 300. But with Hales bowled by one that kept low and Jaques playing on as he chased one, the innings began to falter. James Taylor was yorked and Andre Adams and Samit Patel were guilty of frustrated slogs. Jeetan Patel found enough turn to have Riki Wessels caught at short leg off bat and pad and beat Peter Siddle with an arm ball. After losing their last five wickets for 10 runs in the first innings, Nottinghamshire lost their last five for 49 in the second. It meant Warwickshire required 289 to win. It could, should, have been far more.

Nottinghamshire will curse themselves if they lose this game. They have had several opportunities to shut Warwickshire out of the match, not least when reaching 338 for 4 on the first day or when Warwickshire were 188 for 7 on the second, but now go into the final day with the game finely poised. Nottinghamshire probably retain the stronger position, but their lack of a frontline spinner may yet hurt them.

Indeed, it is a day that could define the Championship seasons of both teams. Win and Nottinghamshire stretch their lead at the top of the top or Warwickshire re-enter the title race; lose and Warwickshire are involved in the relegation battle while Notts would be back among the pack.

If Warwickshire do win, they will surely need Jonathan Trott to continue his rehabilitation with a major contribution. He looked admirably composed on the third evening, repelling the inevitable barrage - just as in the first innings, his first three balls, all bowled by Siddle, were bouncers - with relative ease and batting through the last hour of the day. It was, by some distance, the most calm innings he has played since his troubles in Australia.

"Everyone wants to see him playing again," Newell said. "It is great for Warwickshire and it's great for England. He knows he is going to be roughed up. He knows he will always face a higher percentage of short balls than other batsmen. But he looked the same old Jonathan Trott to me."

While Trott looked comfortable, though, two of his partners squandered their wickets with rash strokes. Varun Chopra, having played himself in, top-edged a pull, while William Porterfield attempted to play a straight ball through square leg. An intriguing final day looms.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 2, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    If Woakes has found an extra yard of pace, he will certainly come into consideration for test match duty. A side with Stokes and Woakes at 6 and 7 is going to have a batting line-up deep enough to carry 3 bowlers (a spinner and 2 seamers) Quite where that leaves Moeen, I'm not sure, but there's some very healthy competition for places beginning to develop.

  • POSTED BY CodandChips on | July 1, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    I like Woakes. Perhaps fear of being perennial 12th man has acted as a kick up the backside.

    He is more a consistent cricketer with both bat and ball than Stokes. Stokes is more likely to do something special and win a match singlehandedly. Both are good young players though. Wish one of them could play white-ball cricket though.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 2, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    If Woakes has found an extra yard of pace, he will certainly come into consideration for test match duty. A side with Stokes and Woakes at 6 and 7 is going to have a batting line-up deep enough to carry 3 bowlers (a spinner and 2 seamers) Quite where that leaves Moeen, I'm not sure, but there's some very healthy competition for places beginning to develop.

  • POSTED BY CodandChips on | July 1, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    I like Woakes. Perhaps fear of being perennial 12th man has acted as a kick up the backside.

    He is more a consistent cricketer with both bat and ball than Stokes. Stokes is more likely to do something special and win a match singlehandedly. Both are good young players though. Wish one of them could play white-ball cricket though.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY CodandChips on | July 1, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    I like Woakes. Perhaps fear of being perennial 12th man has acted as a kick up the backside.

    He is more a consistent cricketer with both bat and ball than Stokes. Stokes is more likely to do something special and win a match singlehandedly. Both are good young players though. Wish one of them could play white-ball cricket though.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 2, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    If Woakes has found an extra yard of pace, he will certainly come into consideration for test match duty. A side with Stokes and Woakes at 6 and 7 is going to have a batting line-up deep enough to carry 3 bowlers (a spinner and 2 seamers) Quite where that leaves Moeen, I'm not sure, but there's some very healthy competition for places beginning to develop.