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February 2, 2013
Tim Bresnan has been given the elbow by England - quite literally - and that gives Chris Woakes the opportunity to make an impression in New Zealand. Bresnan's persistent elbow injury, seemingly not entirely addressed by an operation, has left an opening in the side for a bowler who can bat and Woakes is well placed to make an impression.
Woakes is hoping for an initial opportunity in two Twenty20 warm-up fixtures in Whangerei but his longer-term ambition is to be regarded as a convincing option at No. 7 in all three forms of the game, at a time when Bresnan has been sent back to Yorkshire amid comments from the chief selector, Geoff Miller, that he has lost a bit of his zip.
Woakes has not played in a T20 international since winning his third such cap against Sri Lanka in June 2011 but England's new limited-overs coach, Ashley Giles, is keenly aware of his progress with Warwickshire having previously been the director of cricket at Edgbaston.
"It's nice to have Gilo here," Woakes said. "I spent five years with him at Warwickshire. I probably wasn't expecting to be in all three squads at the start of the winter, but that's the way it is, and I'm obviously delighted."
With England hosting the Champions Trophy next summer, their ambition to win a first trophy in the 50-overs format has again been sharpened. The New Zealand itinerary, which comprises three matches in each of the three formats, offers Woakes an opportunity to press his claims in conditions that - although he does not sound convinced - will not be too dissimilar to those he would experience in England next summer.
Almost unnoticed, while England were winning a Test series in India, Woakes gained experience of New Zealand conditions in a brief spell with Wellington before Christmas. He stood out in T20 with runs and wickets in two separate fixtures against Central Districts.
"I came out here trying to get used to conditions before Christmas and get some cricket under my belt," he said. "I hope that'll stand me in good stead. The pitches here are quite bouncy and generally quite true, not so English-like in terms of seam movement."
As well as his one-day ambitions, Woakes knows that it would not take too much for him to make a Test debut in the three-match series, which concludes the tour.
"Test cricket is the pinnacle in my eyes, and every county cricketer wants to be there at some stage," he said. "For me to get a chance in that Test squad for the first time is fantastic. I feel like my first-class cricket has been really good over the last few years, and I hope I can take this opportunity with both hands.
"My bowling is probably my primary skill. But I feel my batting has improved over the last 12 months and is going really well. Fingers crossed, if that keeps happening, I'll be a genuine allrounder and equally strong in both suits."
Woakes' England colleague, Luke Wright, hurt his right hand during fielding and fitness drills in Whangarei on Saturday. He did not take part in batting practice but an England spokesperson said there was no need for a scan.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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