Geoffrey Boycott: England should ‘stop wasting time’ on Chris Woakes away from home
Former England captain Geoffrey Boycott has hit out at England’s continued selection of Chris Woakes in overseas Test matches.
Woakes came in for criticism for his performance in the first Test against West Indies, taking 1-110 across both innings and conceding 41 runs in his first seven overs in an off-colour start. With England leaving out Stuart Broad and James Anderson, their two all-time leading wicket-takers, for this tour, increased scrutiny has been placed on their new-ball efforts.
Woakes’ record differs greatly when at home and away from home, and Boycott, writing for The Telegraph, pointed to this as a reason for the Warwickshire seamer to be left out from now on.
“Joe Root and Paul Collingwood need to be braver. For a long time now England cricket lovers have seen for themselves that Woakes is not a wicket-taking bowler on tour. Move on,” he said. “The figures don’t lie. In England, with the Dukes ball and bowling in our seamer-friendly conditions, he is very good and his wickets cost 22 runs. Outside England his wickets cost 54.”
Boycott felt that Broad, less than four years Woakes’ senior, should have been selected for this tour, and also suggested that England select the uncapped Saqib Mahmood in Woakes’ stead.
“By leaving James Anderson and Stuart Broad at home Andrew Strauss said this was the tour to give an opportunity to new guys and find out if they can step up to Test match cricket. Really?” he said. “If England wanted one experienced bowler then Broad was a better bet than Woakes. When Stuart was selected in Australia he bowled well and in my mind it’s no contest who would get more wickets in the West Indies.
“We will not learn anything about Saqib Mahmood while he sits on his backside in the dressing room, carrying drinks and bowling in the nets. England should stop wasting time on Woakes and show some forward thinking.”
Woakes’ case for selection is boosted by his handy lower-order batting. He made 46 runs for once out at Antigua, with a 71-run stand with Jonny Bairstow in the first innings aiding England’s recovery from 48-4. However, Boycott suggested that this wasn’t reason enough to persist with Woakes.
“I get the fact he is a nice lad and can get runs down the order but bowlers should be picked to take wickets and batsmen to make runs,” he said. “My impression is England keep selecting him as a safety valve to protect their weak batting. When you pick bowlers to try and cover for a wobbly batting unit it hardly ever works. There are five batsmen, an all-rounder and a wicket-keeper who should make most of the runs.
“Occasionally the tailenders can help out but if a team is always waiting and hoping for the bowlers to get them out of a hole then the batting unit ain’t doing it’s job and the team will struggle to win.”
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