Having endured frustrations of a long lay-off due to injury, Chris Woakes felt “incredible” after realising his childhood dream of scoring a Test hundred at Lord’s in his comeback game.
Replacing Ben Stokes wasn’t an easy job but Woakes made the most of his opportunity by getting Indian captain Virat Kohli on the second day, and followed it up with his maiden Test hundred as England maintained their stranglehold on India with a 250-run first innings lead.
“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,” a visibly elated Woakes told reporters after the end of third day’s play.
He admitted that he was a bit nervous as he approached the three-figure mark but Jonny Bairstow was a calming influence on him. “I was probably getting a little bit nervous in the 90s. 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.”
Woakes has now completed the rare feat of having his name on three different honours’ Board at the Lord’s. He has now completed a treble of five-for, 10-for and century at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
“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.
‘Delighted’ to dismiss Kohli
The 29-year-old’s biggest challenge was to fill in the boots of Ben Stokes, who had a great opening Test before he had to leave for his court hearing. “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 having dismissed the in-form Kohli cheaply. “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.”
Woakes observed that by the time the Indian spin duo were operating, they (him and Bairstow) had done their job in helpful batting conditions. “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.