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England all-rounder Chris Woakes could potentially miss the first two Tests against South Africa as he continues to recover from a side strain that ruled him out of the Champions Trophy.
Woakes sustained the injury after bowling just two overs in England’s Champions Trophy opener against Bangladesh last Thursday.
Woakes’ injury will take four to six weeks to heal, but the 28-year-old admitted that it is likely to be more towards the latter part of that time frame.
If Woakes is fit to bowl by the start of the Test series against the Proteas on July 6, the problem is that he won’t have played any competitive cricket for over a month.
Furthermore, the Natwest T20 Blast will dominate the domestic schedule during that period of time, meaning that Woakes will be limited to four-over spells. This is something that will be an issue as he will be required to bowl a lot more than that in each game of the four-Test series.
“It’s a left side strain and there is a tear in the muscle,” Woakes said. “It’s a grade-two injury, which is not terrible news, but it’s not great news at the same time.
“They say it’s roughly a four- to six-week injury, and it’s more likely to be towards the six when I am back playing competitive cricket. I’m on day five of my recovery now, and the physios say for the first 10 to 14 days there’s not a lot we can do other than rest it.
“You don’t rule it out, but I’m probably up against it for the first Test. Sometimes these things heal quicker, sometimes they take longer, so we have to play it by ear.
“It’s also one of those things you can’t rush back – if you do, it can just ping again. You have to make sure you’re right before you come back. The timing of it is frustrating, it’s terrible, but it’s one of those things.”
The Birmingham native proved to be a crucial asset for England in their summer at home last year as he took 34 wickets in six Tests.
Woakes took eight wickets in two Tests against Sri Lanka at an average of 18.75, but he really excelled in the four-Test series against Pakistan as he was the highest wicket-taker with 26 scalps as an average of 16.73.