England paceman Chris Woakes said Friday that Virat Kohli’s decision to play for Surrey will raise the standard of English county cricket, as the Indian skipper faces criticism for missing a landmark Test.
Kohli will skip Afghanistan’s first-ever Test, in Bangalore against India, to play county cricket in preparation for a high-profile England tour starting July – a decision India’s cricket board has defended.
Woakes, his teammate at the Royal Challengers Bangalore, also welcomed the star batsman’s decision to play in the English championship.
“It’s great he is going to be playing in England for Surrey. That will only make the competition stronger,” Woakes said ahead of Bangalore’s weekend Indian Premier League game against the Delhi Daredevils.
“Getting guys to play against world-class players like Virat is only good for the county game,” said Woakes, who plays for Warwickshire in England.
The 29-year-old bowler has been able to observe Kohli’s tactical style closely during the IPL, India’s cash-rich Twenty20 league.
“Having to share a dressing room with him has been a great experience,” said Woakes, who is playing in his second IPL season.
“He is passionate about playing cricket for RCB and India as well. Obviously we expect some good challenges ahead against him this summer back in England.”
India will play five Tests, three one-day internationals and three T20s against England.
Bangalore are seventh in the eight-team IPL table, with no standout performances from any of its players this season.
Woakes – signed on a $1.09-million deal – has picked up just eight wickets in five games.
Despite the low haul, the Englishman said playing in the tournament has helped boost his T20 game.
“I think the fact that we have 12 English players (in the IPL) is a great thing for English cricket,” he said.
“It’s great for us as individuals to have come out here and experience the IPL.”