Chris Woakes believes that victory over Durham in the Royal London Cup final at Lord’s on Saturday would “cap a great year” for Warwickshire.
England all-rounder Woakes will be available to his county when they try to add the 50-over cup to the Twenty20 trophy, already banked this season, and likely runners-up spot in the championship.
His presence will be a big boost to the Bears. Woakes has fully fledged as a limited-overs cricketer this year having recently held his nerve to bowl crucial last overs to take both county and country to thrilling T20 wins at Edgbaston – Warwickshire against Lancashire in the domestic final and England against India in the one-off international.
“It is nice to close games out,” he said. “You don’t get the opportunity to do it in such big games very often so to do it twice in the space of a few weeks at Edgbaston was nice.
“Earlier in my career my limited-overs bowling wasn’t really my main asset but I have worked on it hard and I feel it is in a good place now. I can’t wait for Saturday to come. Other than winning the championship, Lord’s finals are the pinnacle of county cricket and I have won one and lost one so far so it would be nice to get the ratio in the positive.
“To win it would cap a great year for Warwickshire so fingers crossed we can lift the trophy. Our limited-overs cricket all year has been really good. A lot of squad members have been used and everyone has come in and done a great job so the lads are confident.”
Saturday’s final will be Woakes’s last appearance for the Bears this year as the England management want him rested from the last championship game next week to conserve his energy for the tour to Sri Lanka in six weeks’ time.
It is hard to see quite how playing a four-dayer this remote from the tour would leave him too drained six weeks down the line, but England’s decision shows that Woakes, recently awarded his first central contract, is firmly embedded in their thoughts.
“It has been good to be involved for England in all three formats this summer,” he said. “I think I have improved and it has been a gradual process over the last two years. I have probably put a yard of pace bit also retained my accuracy which was also my strength.
“As years go by you get to know your action better. I worked on a few things with Graeme Welch when he was Bears bowling coach and have continued that with Alan Richardson and have also worked with David Saker and Kevin Shine with England so it’s good to see the rewards.”
With Woakes and Ian Bell (if fit after from a broken toe) available, Warwickshire will have a strong team against Durham on Saturday. As well as the two England players they also have Jonathan Trott back to the from which made him integral to England’s team for five years.
Bears chief executive Colin Povey believes Trott has emphatically proved he still has the quality to return to international cricket. Whether Trott ever wishes to climb back aboard the international treadmill, burnout from which forced him home from the Ashes tour last winter, remains to be seen. But Trott’s return to form in four-day and 50-over cricket in recent weeks certainly means the question is a valid one, reckons Povey.
“If you look at England’s top order there is probably a bit of wriggle room,” he said. “And if Trotty keeps batting the way he has done for us there won’t be many batting better.
“It has been a really difficult period for him but he is back in an environment which is consistent and in which he is performing and successful. Every time he bats someone tries to test him with the short ball straight away but he is playing that very well.
“Around the group he is back to his normal self and I think he is in a very different space to where he was when he started to reintegrate into the group.
“The question of whether he wants to return to the England fray is one for him. If you are successful and still have a desire to play why wouldn’t you play for England because it is what you always dreamed of. If you lose the desire, that is the critical thing. And that is a question for him.
The ECB’s decision not to award Trott another central contract clears the way for the player to fully emerge from a difficult year during which, said Povey, the situation has been impressively handled by the governing body.
“Over recent months we have had a very constructive dialogue with the ECB about all scenarios from Trotty getting another central contract at one end of the spectrum to him never playing domestic cricket again at the other.” he said.
“The ECB have been very supportive of him as an individual and us as a club. All along it has been a good, grown-up conversation.”