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Chris Woakes on how he improved his record away from home

Chris Woakes
by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 3 minute read

Nearly seven years into his Test career, Chris Woakes has yet to truly establish himself as a member of England’s first choice seam attack.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad have continued, when fit, to share the new ball while Sam Curran has been emerged as a reliable alternative for the bowling all-rounder slot. Add Jofra Archer and Mark Wood into the mix and the competition to be one of England’s three or four selected seam bowlers in Test cricket is fierce.

From Woakes’ point of view, one aspect of his game that has potentially held him back from nailing down a place in England’s first choice XI is his lack of potency away from home. Prior to the 2019-2020 winter, Woakes averaged over 60 with the ball in overseas Tests – a figure in stark contrast to his excellent record in England, where he averages 23.45.

In his two Tests this winter – one in a high scoring draw in New Zealand, the other in a win over South Africa in Johannesburg – Woakes showed signs of improvement, taking seven wickets at under 30.

Woakes credited time spent working with England head coach Chris Silverwood and former England quick Darren Gough for his improvement abroad. “I feel like this winter was a little bit of a breakthrough for me,” said Woakes. “I did some work with Chris Silverwood and Darren Gough just on my lengths that I bowl away from home.

“In the past I have probably been a bit safe and bowled a bit short whereas actually with the Kookaburra, you still have to give it a chance to move laterally and get it up there. And try to drive it into that fuller length a bit harder than I have previously. That was a help. I also got an opportunity to bowl with a newer ball which, particularly with the Kookaburra, can help as well. It hasn’t been huge, drastic changes to the way I bowl abroad but it’s more of the mindset, trying to attack a bit more.”

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