Chris Woakes realised a boyhood dream of getting a standing ovation at Lord’s on Saturday when his Test hundred in comeback game from long lay-off due to injury put the game beyond India’s reach on the third day. Having already made a mark with the ball by picking two wickets, including the prized one of Virat Kohli, Woakes continued his impressive work by scoring 120 runs from 159 balls to put England in 250 run lead at stumps on Day 3 of the second Test. Woakes came into the side after Ben Stokes had to sit out for his trial on affray charges.
“That feeling of raising your bat to a standing ovation at Lord’s is a bit of a boyhood dream. But it’s an incredible feeling,” an elated Woakes told mediapersons after the third day.
The all-rounder was out for six weeks with a knee injury which he picked up during the Pakistan series in June. “It’s a sweet day, really. I was over the moon to get the call to be back in the squad and I could never have dreamed of getting a hundred in my comeback Test,” said Woakes. “To get to a hundred was an incredible feeling and I was getting a bit nervous through the 90s, to be honest. All of a sudden, you start thinking of three-figures, start wafting at things outside off-stump, which I hadn’t been doing. Jonny (Bairstow) came down and had a word, which settled me.”
To make the celebrations even grander, Woakes had recently become a father and was asked by his teammates to do a “baby celebration” but when he did reach the landmark, it all became bit of a blur. “The lads did ask me actually where was the baby celebration, but for some reason, that wasn’t really on my mind. I didn’t really have any ideas of how I was going to celebrate, and didn’t really know how to – but I’m obviously just delighted. It’s still a bit of a blur. It seems to go so fast – 30 seconds of raising your bat feels literally like a blink of the eye,” Woakes said.
This isn’t Woakes’ first glorious moment at the ‘Home of Cricket’. He had scored 124 runs in previous two Tests and picked up 18 wickets. “It’s a sweet day. It has been a frustrating summer so far, missing quite a bit of cricket. I was over the moon to get the call to be back in the squad. I could never really have dreamt of scoring a hundred in my comeback Test. With five or six weeks out injured, you’re watching the boys all summer and you want to be out there,” he said. He averages 121 with the bat and 9.93 with the ball at Lord’s.
Woakes admitted he didn’t feel ready enough to play the opening Test, which England won at Edgbaston by 31 runs, but was in a better space mentally and physically before the Lord’s Test. However, replacing Stokes was a big ask.
“I definitely felt my body was ready (here), and from a mental side of things I was ready to play. Coming in in place of Ben Stokes, it’s quite big shoes to fill. But you try not to think about that – I don’t try to play like him. I play like myself, try to do my job for the team, and thankfully I’ve done that so far,” he said.
Woakes also expressed his satisfaction of dismissing an in-form India captain Kohli who had scored 149 and 51 runs in the first Test. “We all know how good Virat is, a world-class player, number one in the Test rankings. He is obviously a king-pin in India’s (batting) line-up. Particularly yesterday, with the ball moving around, it felt like it was a really good opportunity to try to get him out early. Once he gets in, he’s very difficult to get out – so I was delighted.”
When Woakes stepped up to bat, England were in trouble at 131/5. En route his measured century, Woakes and Johnny Bairstow brought together England’s record sixth-wicket stand against India at Lord’s – 189 runs – and also took the side to 357/6.
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“When I went to the crease (on Saturday), I think we were about 20 ahead. Jonny had been playing nicely and I think the important thing was to try to get through certain spells. There were some really good ones – Mohammed Shami kept running in – and we just saw each spell as something to tick off, and make it difficult for the Indian bowlers to keep coming back.”
“There wasn’t a huge amount of turn there, so when the spinners were on we felt we’d done our job. I didn’t really think of a score at any point. I was just thinking of a partnership, trying to get past the first 20 balls. I wasn’t looking too much at the scoreboard in terms of what lead we needed. But the ball got a little bit softer, and it made it a little bit easier,” he added.
Woakes further believes weather forecast for the fourth day could work in England’s favour and help them towards taking a 2-0 lead in the series. “If there is a little bit of rain around tomorrow, that might play into our hands – bit overcast, bit of moisture around, we hope it might move around like it did (on Friday). I’m sure it won’t quite do that but with a significant lead, whenever we do come to bowl, we hope we can put the Indian batsmen under pressure,” he stated.