August 13, 2022

India v England 2020-21 – Chris Woakes returns home after touring India after a long spell on the sidelines of England


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Allrounder back for ODI series in March, having played no matches in three countries

England will not be able to call on Chris Woakes for the fourth Test against next week in Ahmedabad, having left the tour on Thursday for his pre-arranged break from the team’s bio-secure bubble.

Woakes, 31, has had a frustrating winter with England, having been involved in teams in South Africa, Sri Lanka and now India without playing a single game.

He traveled to South Africa for the England White Balls tour in December, but after missing the T20I match (his last such match was in 2015), the ODI series was later canceled. due to concerns about the implementation of Covid protocols in the team hotel. .

Then Woakes’ chances of pushing for a spot on the Sri Lankan leg of the England test tour were reduced from the start, after his Birmingham-based travel mate Moeen Ali received a diagnosed with Covid-19 when he arrived in the country in January, which means the two men had to undergo a long period of quarantine.

Woakes was then excluded from the first three tests against India, including this week’s pink ball test – which might have been his only realistic shot at the involvement, given England’s belief that the conditions could have favored the game of bowling.

However, his batting prowess was overlooked in favor of a reunion of England’s old guard James Anderson and Stuart Broad, neither of whom took a wicket as the spin dominated for both teams over the two days.

As per the ECB’s policy for all of their multi-format players, Woakes is now returning home with his wife Amie and their two young daughters, Ella and Evie-Louise, who were born in October.

Already this year, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes failed the tests in Sri Lanka, as did Rory Burns, who was on paternity leave, while Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood returned home for the Chennai leg of the India tour. .

Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Moeen are also unavailable for the remainder of the series, but will return to the squad next week to prepare for the five-game T20I series which begins on March 12.

One squad player who could still come back to the squad for the fourth test in Ahmedabad is spinner Dom Bess, who was dropped in favor of Moeen in Chennai despite being 17 wickets at 22.41 in his three tests against Sri Lanka and India.

England management feared Bess might not have the control necessary to restrict Indian batsmen on the turntables – a view partially justified by the performance of his de facto replacement, Joe Root, who took the startling numbers of 5 for 8 in 6.2 overs at Ahmedabad.

However, with the Fourth Test wicket just as likely to offer a ride from the get-go, and at least one of the three English setters likely to be surplus to need, there is a clear opportunity for Bess to return to alignment.

“He’s in the running,” said Chris Silverwood, England head coach. “He was ruled out of this one because of the potential movement we could have gotten from the pink ball. In practice we thought about how best to use that pink ball and who do we have?

“We have two bowlers in the top 10 [Broad and Anderson] and if they can move the ball, they’re a handful. So from Bessy’s perspective, I wouldn’t read too much about it. He has played an important role in helping us win games in the past and I’m sure he will do it again in the future.

“He’s been great with the group,” added Silverwood. “We have a good group here that goes around and helps each other, keeps up. You have to do it in the bubble life, that’s what we’re living in right now. We’re lucky to have that kind of thing. environment.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets to @miller_cricket