Chris Woakes is “desperate” to regain his place in England’s Test team during the upcoming tour to the West Indies.
And the all-rounder would love to not only return to the side himself but also line up alongside Warwickshire team-mate Olly Stone who will travel to the Caribbean aiming to earn his Test debut.
Both Bears played a big part in England’s impressive ODI series win in Sri Lanka before Christmas but then did not feature in the subsequent spin-dominated Tests. But conditions in the Caribbean will be more suited to the express pace of Stone and Woakes’s skilful seam-bowling.
"It won’t be easy to get in the Test side because the competition is very strong but hopefully me and Olly can force our way in."
Woakes is excited by the challenge of trying to break back into the Test team and also break new ground. Of his 26 Test caps, none have come in the West Indies and only one against them, a defeat at Headingley in 2017.
“I’m really excited by the West Indies tour,” he said. “So far against them in Test cricket my record is played one, lost one, so I’d quite like to improve that! My only Test against them was a disappointing one all round when I think I came back a little bit early after injury. I just can’t wait to get out there.
“England were never going to play four seamers and a spinner in the Tests in Sri Lanka and unfortunately it was Olly and me that missed out, but it was still a great tour to be part of. It was fantastic to see Olly bedding into international cricket so well – and great to have another Bear out there.
“Conditions will be different in the West Indies. Pitches over there can favour spin too but not to the same degree. I’m desperate to get my Test place back and it would be fantastic if Olly makes his debut. With his pace I think he could be a potent weapon.”
Although Woakes has never played a Test in the Caribbean he is no stranger to that part of the world and has enjoyed some success there. He took his only first-class hat-trick so far when England Lions played in the West Indies’ regional competition in 2011.
Woakes dismissed Vishaul Singh, Veerasammy Permaul and Zaheer Mohamed on his way to figures of 10-4-18-5 against Guyana and followed that up with a stroke-laden century – 115 – against Jamaica at Sabina Park.
“The Caribbean is a great place to play cricket and I’ve got some good memories from playing for the Lions out there,” he said. “I took my only hat-trick there and have had a bit of success with bat and ball. I’ve also been out there with the Bears on pre-season trips so that sort of experience can only help.
“It won’t be easy to get in the Test side because the competition is very strong but hopefully me and Olly can force our way in.”