Woakes ready to shine at Champions Trophy

“I feel fine going back to England and hopefully playing a key part for England this summer”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Following a strong showing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL), England all-rounder Chris Woakes is eager to maintain his momentum going into the Champions Trophy next month.

In the 13 games he played, Woakes scored 46 runs and took 17 wickets at an average of 22.70.

Even though the Knight Riders qualified for the IPL playoffs, Woakes won’t be available for selection as he will be linking up with his England team-mates ahead of their training camp in Spain, which precedes the three-match ODI series against South Africa and the Champions Trophy.

Despite enduring a gruelling campaign, Woakes admitted that playing in the IPL was an opportunity he could not turn down.

“That is what we had to weigh up before coming here,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “Either take time off or come and have this experience. You don’t know if these opportunities are going to come around ever again. It might be a one-off for myself. You just never know.

“So I did not feel like it was an opportunity that I could turn down. My body feels pretty good. As a fast bowler, you are always hurting somewhere. You always have to look after parts of your body. I’m no different. I feel good. I feel fine going back to England and hopefully playing a key part for England this summer.”

When asked about why he valued himself at INR 2 crore (approx. £240,000) at the IPL auction in February, the 28-year-old admitted that he wanted to ensure playing in the tournament was worth his while as he was giving up valuable downtime.

Despite being in the top bracket in terms of base price, Woakes was picked up by the Knight Riders for INR 4.2 crore.

“With international cricket, the schedules are very hectic,” he said. “The summer we have got coming up is very, very busy. So this period during the IPL was actually was a good time to rest up and take time away from the game.

“I had to weigh that up: either come to the IPL or take the time off. So I had put myself at a high price for it to be really worthwhile coming here. I didn’t expect to even get picked up. The fact that I did was quite a shock.”

Woakes revealed that he also spoke with England head coach Trevor Bayliss about featuring in the tournament since the 54-year-old led the Knight Riders to IPL glory in 2012 and 2014.

“He only had good things to say about it,” he said. “He was very keen for us to go and experience it and come out here and try and develop our game. It is good that both Trevor and [Andrew] Strauss are backing us.

“It is hard to beat that. It has lived up to every expectation. When you look back home and watch the games on television, you know that they are high-profile games, there is a lot of pressure on you as a player. You are under huge pressure as a player to perform, and it is good to be put in those positions.”

Having had the opportunity to go up against some of the best players in the world during his IPL stint, Woakes insisted that he intends to use everything he learnt to help him excel at the Champions Trophy.

“T20 cricket is a good experience to have behind you going into an ODI tournament because you still have to bowl death overs in ODI cricket,” he said. “And it is almost just an extended version of T20. So clearly it would keep me in good stead going into an ODI tournament.”

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