Christopher Roger Woakes
March 02, 1989, Birmingham, Warwickshire
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
By the time Chris Woakes returned from England's tour to South Africa at the start of 2016, he feared his Test career was over. He was 27 by then and had played six Tests. But, despite bowling respectably on almost every outing, he had never quite made the breakthrough and an average of 63.75 made dispiriting reading. It looked as if he may be remembered as one of England's nearly men.
But fate offered another chance. A knee injury to Ben Stokes saw Woakes recalled to the squad to play Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street. On the same day he claimed career-best figures of 9 for 36 against Durham - "It was like facing 90mph legbreaks," Paul Collingwood said - and, with Alastair Cook insisting Woakes' batting gave him the edge (both Paul Farbrace and Trevor Bayliss wanted Jake Ball to play), he made it back into the XI.
It was to prove the start of a golden summer. After career-bests to that point with bat and ball at Chester-le-Street, he made a maiden Test half-century at Lord's and followed it with an unbeaten 95 to help England to an unlikely tie in an ODI at Trent Bridge. It was the highest score by a No. 8 or lower in the history of ODIs and helped England recover from 92 for 6 in pursuit of 287.
Then, at Lord's, he claimed 11 for 102 against Pakistan, becoming the first England bowler since Ian Botham in 1978 to take a five-wicket haul in each innings of a Test at the ground. He followed it with another seven wickets and a half-century in Manchester and five more wickets in Birmingham. His 26 wickets at 16.73 apiece were a record in a series between England and Pakistan. Woakes, finally, had arrived at the top level. He was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year for his efforts.
In many ways it was a surprise it had taken so long. Woakes had long been a highly respected player at county level. He made his first-class debut for Warwickshire in 2006 as a 17-year-old and, before he was 20, was topping the county's bowling averages with impressive control and an ability to swing the ball both ways. Most of all, though, he impressed with an apparently unflappable temperament that Ashley Giles, director of cricket at Warwickshire, admitted he would like "to clone" as the template for all players.
After two more solid county seasons, he was selected on the England Lions tour of the West Indies in 2010, where he performed admirably and was deemed ready for the next step. He made his international debut in a T20 in Adelaide in January 2011 and kept his cool to hit the winning runs in a thrilling one-wicket victory. A few weeks later, he claimed 6 for 45 at Brisbane - the second-best figures by an Englishman in ODIs.
Back in the UK, Woakes enjoyed another superb summer in first-class cricket with 56 wickets at 21.78 and 579 runs at 48.25. Most of his chances for England came with the white ball, playing sporadically over the next couple of years, before being handed a Test debut at the end of the 2013 Ashes. He performed respectably on a flat pitch, but it was felt he lacked the pace to prosper at Test level and he was left out of the Ashes squad for the return tour to Australia.
Having worked hard to add that pace, Woakes was recalled in place of Stokes in the summer of 2014 and played three Test in succession against India. He enjoyed no luck, but demonstrated the skill and control to suggest he had a future at that level. But a succession of injuries - and the development of Stokes - saw him slip back among the chasing pack and he lost his central contract at the end of 2015.
The following summer changed his fortunes, and his growing reputation was rewarded in 2017 by a first IPL contract. But having been expected to lead England's attack in the Champions Trophy, he instead pulled up after bowling just two overs in their opening match and missed the rest of the tournament. A difficult Ashes tour followed and he was dropped from the Test side in New Zealand - his bowling average away from home having risen to 61.77 - but he bounced back during the English summer, scoring a maiden Test century, against India at Lord's.
A year later Woakes helped England to secure a dramatic, maiden World Cup win - his importance never more apparent than during the new-ball spell that helped reduce Australia to 14 for 3 in the semi-final at Edgbaston. Improvements with the Kookaburra ball were apparent during one-off appearances in New Zealand and South Africa that winter, and his mastery at home saw him named PCA Player of the Year in 2020, having averaged 20.24 in five behind-closed-doors Tests against West Indies and Pakistan, as well as scoring an unbeaten 84 at Old Trafford to secure a fourth-innings chase of 277 by three wickets.
Batting & Fielding
Explore Statsguru Analysis
Debut/Last Matches - Player
Recent Matches - Player
News and Features