Australia v England, 1st T20, Adelaide January 12, 2011

Woakes slots straight in to England's winning unit


Paul Collingwood, the England captain, had never seen Chris Woakes bat before his match-winning innings against Australia in the opening Twenty20 and went on the advice of coach Andy Flower as to which position the debutant should take. It proved another perfect decision from Flower as Woakes hit an unbeaten 19 from No. 9 to secure a one-wicket victory at Adelaide.

Woakes, 21, earned his chance in the Twenty20 and one-day squads after Stuart Broad's stomach injury picked up during the second Ashes Test ruled him out of action until at least the World Cup. It wasn't expected that Woakes would play a major role but he was given an outing against the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra then preferred to Chris Tremlett in the Twenty20 side. Now he could yet be making a late bid for World Cup selection.

His batting talent has been evident in county cricket where he averages 27.24 in first-class cricket with two hundreds and holds a Twenty20 strike-rate of 146.15. However, it was a supreme effort to pull his fourth ball in international cricket from Shaun Tait, the fastest bowler in the world, for six then hold his nerve in the final over. To make it even sweater for Woakes, the six had followed a few verbals from Tait who had tried to unsettle the new kid.

"It was incredible," Collingwood said. "Tait had given him some jip the ball before and he's just said he was expecting it to be a bit short and he got it out the middle. He thinks about the game as well and that's crucial.

"It was a fantastic performance by him. To be honest I hadn't seen much of his batting, Andy Flower said he was a serious batter. Graeme Swann was a bit disappointed he was ahead of him but as soon as he hit that six off Tait, Swanny just doffed his cap at Andy and understood why he was behind him. He looks a serious batter as well, you can say he's a true allrounder.

"To have a youngster come in a lead us home like that, I don't think we should be leaving it up to him. We never like to leave it up to the bowlers. It's great the bowlers can bat like that, but it's up to one of the batsmen to see the team home."

Cameron White, Australia's new Twenty20 captain, found a succinct way of describing Woakes's hit off Tait. "It was a hell of a shot," he said. "When England needed a big shot they found it."

Woakes is the latest example of a player slotting seamlessly into this confident England unit and it shows the benefits of having a cohesive unit. In the Test series Tremlett and Tim Bresnan were drafted in with immediate results, while over the last 12 months Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan have also made impressive Test debuts.

There was no hiding from the action in the field, either, with Woakes given the first over the match by his captain. He conceded just four but was taken for 14 off the next by Shane Watson and David Warner, yet returned to bowl the 13th and 15th overs for a total of 16 and take the key wicket of Cameron White.

"There was a lot of pressure. Even though you only have 24 balls to bowl you have the likes of Shane Watson trying to smack you out the park," Collingwood said. "I thought when he came back for those couple of overs he was superb at a critical moment. It looks as though he enjoys the pressure."

The victory gave England their eighth Twenty20 success in a row which set a new world record and one that Collingwood believes won't be touched in a long time. "It means a lot. We always say we want to create history, it's a new form of the game but, let me tell you, eight wins in this form of the game is something very special," he said. "It only takes one performance to take it away from you like Shane Watson nearly did tonight. I can't see many teams getting close to that in the future."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • J Ranjith on January 13, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke: I respect your feelings about all that bash. But you need to understand that Indians are not also-rans and English are not champs just because they are champions for this year. If so, Indians were champions two years back, when England was fighting for the lower deck which doesn't mean that they are also-rans. You need to understand why your champs didn't get millions. IPL clashes with English season and international matches. What do you want - Do English cricketers need to play for their country (I mean, England) and county or for IPL? If you are okay with them announcing that when IPL happens they wont play any other cricket - international or county - even tomorrow they would get millions, more than Indian players. The point is people get millions because they can play T20 and are "available" for all the tournaments. Even though franchises have got few English players for their reputation. For you, IPL=PASS when cricketers forsake playing for their country.

  • naveen kumar on January 13, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    @EVH316: Not that I am telling some one is not a good player. Just saw many players who did dame good for an year are two and disintegrated without trace. For me, problem is not with the players, but with the english media/personal and the way they hype the things. I hope Cricinfo will not become like a red top news paper.

  • Stuart on January 13, 2011, 7:42 GMT

    Just over a week ago I picked Woakes as a good outside bet to get into the test team as replacement for Colly. He offers the 4th seam bowler option that Morgan doesn't, and while his batting is not yet in Morgan's class I have a feeling it might be there or thereabouts by the time we play our next test match. If Morgan takes Colly's place, we look horribly fragile if one our main 4 bowlers breaks down. Morgan is definitely the "next cab on the rank" to come in to replace any of our top 5 batmen (assuming Belly moves to 5), but he'll never be the all-rounder that we need instead of Wobbles.

  • michael on January 13, 2011, 6:59 GMT

    Wright has time and again failed to produce with the bat, England need to be pro-active and keep improving to stay ahead of the pack and replacing Wright with a batsmen would ensure nights like last night happen less. Ravi Bopara would be my pick if he was on tour with his seamers being an added bonus. But Lumb could slot in down the order, England have more than enough bowling options, hence why Wright never got a bowl.

  • Dummy4 on January 13, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    We shouldn't get too excited about 8 wins on the trot. Simple statistics tells you that the record will not last very long. However, exciting game today and, late collapse overlooked, England played very well.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2011, 23:08 GMT

    There will be plenty of Indians saying that we have no chance of becoming number one, but what do they have, raina and yuvraj both of whom are only decent cricketers nothing more, and they have not got a squad full of players of that ability

  • John on January 12, 2011, 22:02 GMT

    At 21, Woakes already has three years of first-class cricket behind him. In England last year he took 58 first-class wickets @21. He's also made 2 first-class centuries. Those are the kind of numbers that add up to a bright future in international cricket as an all-rounder. England also have James Harris, who's only 20 and last season had 63 first-class wickets @21 and Adil Rashid, 22, a leggie, who had 62 wickets @31 (a good performance in a seam-friendly summer) and 732 runs @45. No shortage of good young batsmen either, with Adam Lyth, 23, (1509 runs @52), Moeen Ali, 23 (1270 runs @47), James Taylor, 21 last week, (1095 runs @43) and Ben Stokes, only 19 and 740 runs @46. Add those to the 25 and unders, Bresnan, Shahzad, Davies, Broad, Morgan and Finn, already in the England squad and top off with Alastair Cook who turned 26 on Christmas Day, and the prospects are so bright, we'll have to wear shades.

  • Dummy4 on January 12, 2011, 18:06 GMT

    best wishes 4 england....................

  • Finn on January 12, 2011, 17:55 GMT

    He should replace Wright who has been treated badly by the management in my opinion, I don't think he knows his role in the side. Is he a top order pinch-hitter who can turn his arm a bit? A Collingwood-esque all-rounder? Or a bolwer who comes in at 7/8 and biffs it around. Early in his career I thought it might have been the first one but he's moved around so much he hasn't settled. He is very talented but his stats don't look great. Maybe some time away from the team and maybe give him a confirmed roel for the team and he may come back stronger. But Woakes looks good.

  • Faisal on January 12, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    England seem to be the new Australia. If Flower sticks around and they continue to do what they have been doing for the last two to three years, I see it being very difficult for them not to win their first World Cup. Team confidence creates synergy and that is currently what they have going for them. Every player seems they are good enough, and they are showing that.

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