June 25, 2019, 15:48

Chris Woakes on his knee, Alastair Cook’s knighthood and the ‘genius’ AB de Villiers

Chris Woakes on his knee, Alastair Cook’s knighthood and the ‘genius’ AB de Villiers

England seamer Chris Woakes blogs on the state of his knee, Alastair Cook’s knighthood and why AB de Villiers will have Blast bowlers trembling…

My knee has been in the news but I have to say that I was fine for the second ODI against Windies – I was classed as fit and ready to play but Morgs [Eoin Morgan], TB [Trevor Bayliss] and the medical staff saw it as one for me to miss.

There is always a risk playing two games in three days whether you have a slight injury issue or not but, considering I hadn’t played a huge amount of cricket recently, the decision was made.

My knee is okay – sometimes it is a little bit sore but it is something I have had for a reasonable amount of time and I just have to manage it.

I use a lot of ice post-games and post-training and also do a lot of strength work around the games to try and make sure the muscles around it, my hamstring, my quad, my calf, are fired and working.

My knee flared up just before the Test series so I have had to look after it a little bit more over the last month or so and there are times, looking into practice, where I think I don’t want to go too hard for too long as I have a game the following day.

You have to box clever and make sure you get enough out of training that you are ready to play in an ODI but not do too much so that I am sore when I wake up the following morning. That’s the position I am in at the minute.

During games I find I can get through pretty well, it’s either the following day or during practice, where you don’t have the adrenaline or concentration levels that you have in the height of a game, that it hurts more and is at its worst.

The fact the games are more spread out in the World Cup than in this bilateral series is good for me but also all the bowlers in terms of recovery times – one-day internationals can be quite intense.

I don’t have huge concerns about Test matches going forward, either – if I had to play one right at this moment it might be a bit of a struggle because of the flare-up and the fact it is a bit tender, but in Sri Lanka before Christmas I was in a really good place with it and had no problems whatsoever.

What I really need to get across is that I have had this knee issue for quite some time and I go through periods where it’s brilliant and I don’t worry about it at all.

There are peaks and troughs but as a fast bowler you are always going to have something that’s sore. I just crack on and push through a bit of pain every now and again.

Hopefully after this series I can get home and have a bit of rest but also a period working hard in the gym to get it strong again and be in a way better place for the summer.

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I haven’t really thought about what I’ll do after cricket – I think I smile a bit too much to be the next Nasser Hussain! I am still only 29, I turn 30 next week, and still feel in the prime of my career.

My focus right now is giving myself the best opportunity to be the best England cricketer I can be, starting with the fourth ODI on Wednesday.

You don’t really expect a game in the Caribbean to be rained off – so that was a bit of a shock in Grenada on Monday!

The guys were really keen to get out there, especially having lost the previous game in Barbados. We wanted to put in a solid performance and get back ahead in the series.

We know Windies will cause us problems – we managed to win the first game but they rightly won the second one. We were by no means complacent but it is good to have that reminder every now and again that you have to put in the hard yards to win matches at international level.

Morgs is always calm after a game, whether we have won or lost – when we have had setbacks or won a game with a slightly below-par performance he has always kept us level. That has helped us become the side we are. He keeps things simple and we all believe in his philosophy.

Our former captain Alastair Cook has received his knighthood, which was really special to see. It was a proud moment for England cricket, which he has a been a great credit to.

Cookie has always played the game in the right way, with a smile on his face, and is a role model to anyone who has followed the sport. It’s great to see he has been knighted – but calling him ‘Sir Alastair’ will be a bit surreal!

The first Test match he wasn’t around in Sri Lanka this winter was a bit strange as he was part of the England team for 12 years, but the way it works is that people move on. He has been sorely missed, though, not just as a batsman but also a character around the dressing room.

Another left-hander has scored runs against us in the series so far, in Chris Gayle, who is tricky to bowl to. He presents different challenges to you as a bowler and you don’t really know how he’s going to play.

Sometimes he has a little look and gets his eye in before he plays more expansively, other times he goes from ball one, so you need to be on your toes as a bowler.

He is not the most pleasurable guy to be bowling at as you know he can hit you out of the ground but he is great for the game – he calls himself the Universe Boss and he is a great character. As a bowler, we want to see the back of him as quickly as possible and we have a few plans.

I know he scored 135 in the first game and 50 in the second but I think we have bowled quite well at him at times, we just need to make sure we do that for longer periods. We want to get him out early and out more pressure on the Windies’ middle order.

In terms of other destructive batsmen I have faced, Brendon McCullum comes to mind, he was extremely aggressive at the top of the order and always wanted to take the positive approach and get on top of you.

AB de Villiers is obviously another one, someone I teamed with for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, and Middlesex have pulled of an unbelievable coup getting him for the Vitality Blast this summer. I am sure he will put bums on seats.

He is a bit of a freak and it is brilliant a world-class player like him will be playing with and against our own. It will be a great learning experience for youngsters to be with someone who will go down as a great of the game.

They call him Mr 360 and watching him bat up close was pretty special. It’s almost like he turns it on when he wants to. I know it’s not as easy as that but he makes the game look incredibly easy. He slows it right down and looks like he has so much time.

He is also a very down-to-earth, approachable guy – he’s good to have a chat with, talk some nonsense with but you also want to pick his brain and learn about his genius.

I can’t speak highly enough of him – but I bet he’ll have some bowlers quaking in their boots as he can absolutely destroy you!

Watch the fourth one-day international between Windies and England live on Sky Sports Cricket (channel 404) and Main Event (401) from 1pm on Wednesday. You can also follow over-by-over commentary and in-play clips on our rolling blog on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app.

Source: skysports.com

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