Woakes determined to stay at summit
Chris Woakes has underlined the importance of England retaining their position at the top of the International Cricket Council ODI rankings.
Alastair Cook’s men will be overhauled by NatWest Series opponents South Africa should they slip to defeat in their current five-match rubber, which resumes at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow following Friday’s abandonment in Cardiff.
After seeing England lose their status as the world’s number-one Test team with a 2-0 defeat to the Proteas, Woakes is confident of a response.
“It’s a totally different format and it’s important that we bounce back,” said the Warwickshire all-rounder.
“We’re number one in the ODI rankings and we’re trying to stay there or even expand that gap at the top. We just can’t wait to get this game under way after the washout in Cardiff.”
Woakes’ return for the first ODI in Cardiff on Friday was something of a damp squib, rain bringing an end to proceedings after only 5.3 overs of the home side’s innings.
His previous appearance was almost exactly a year previously in Ireland and in the the meantime his stock has risen considerably.
Most eye-catching is his batting - with a first-class average of 87.75 from eight innings this summer to go with 25 wickets at 23.32.
Yet while he is understandably happy about his progress with the bat, Woakes still sees his main job being with the ball.
“I still think my primary skill is bowling and I have areas to improve there, but if I keep my batting going in the direction it is at the moment then that’s good,” he said.
“I think I’ve developed my batting a lot in the last 18 months. I felt like I’ve had the potential to be an all-rounder but never scored the runs to warrant it. I feel I have the runs under my belt now to be classed as an all-rounder and that is where I want to be.
“It’s a good thing to have the other string to my bow. I feel like my cricket has gone from strength to strength as my career has progressed. My batting has definitely improved and I have some form to back that up.
“If I can improve my bowling the way I want to and become an international bowler, that will be my way in (as an England regular).”
Francois du Plessis, meanwhile, believes the absence of David Miller from South Africa’s NatWest Series squad is testament to their depth of quality.
Yorkshire overseas star Miller, 23, was the marquee attraction at Friends Life t20 finals day, scoring 47 in the semi-final defeat of Sussex before unleashing some devastating blows on his way to 72 not out against Hampshire in the showpiece.
Miller struck five huge sixes and five additional boundaries in a memorable 46-ball knock but was on the losing side at the SWALEC Stadium as Hampshire held on for victory.
Although he has 16 ODI and eight Twenty20 caps for his country, he has been overlooked for the tour of England.
Du Plessis explained: “David has a bright future ahead of him and I look forward to playing with him one day, but we have just got quite a lot (of destructive batsman).
“We’re blessed with a lot of good cricketers at the moment and things are going well on the domestic scene too so we’re looking forward.
“David is a raw up-and-coming talent. He can strike a ball very hard. He’s a bit like Albie Morkel, but Albie just has a lot more experience.”