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Chris Woakes admits overseas days are numbered as he targets career longevity


Chris Woakes has indicated he is unlikely to play 50-over cricket after this year’s World Cup and admitted he would be happy never to play another Test outside of England if it meant prolonging his career as a whole.
Woakes played a significant role with bat and ball on his return to England’s Test side in their three-wicket win at Headingley and is among their handful of all-format players. But at 34, he is conscious of trying to extend his playing career and will balance his international commitments with opportunities on the franchise circuit.

Fitness permitting, Woakes is a guaranteed selection for England’s defence of the 50-over World Cup in India later this year. But, speaking at a #Funds4Runs session organised by LV= Insurance at Stockport Georgians Cricket Club, he said he would be “amazed” if he played another ODI after that tournament.

“I would be amazed if I played 50-over cricket beyond the World Cup,” Woakes said. “It’ll be hard in India but we have a great team and squad that could hopefully do something special. At the end of that, you map out what the future might look like as an all-format player, and the next cycle: I certainly won’t be playing ODI cricket at 38-39 years of age.”

Woakes pulled up “extremely sore” after the Headingley Test, which reminded him “how hard Test cricket is on the body” following a 15-month gap between appearances. But he has retained his spot in England’s team for Wednesday’s Test at Emirates Old Trafford, and is confident he will be able to overcome a short turnaround to play at The Oval if selected.

Having missed the 2015 series through injury, Woakes has only been part of one Ashes-winning campaign. That came in 2013, when he made his debut in the final Test at The Oval with the urn already secured; a decade later, he is “desperate” to be a bigger part of another England triumph.
England’s next Test series after the Ashes is a five-match tour to India in January-February 2024, where conditions are unlikely to be conducive to Woakes’ seam bowling. He has been retained on a lucrative contract with Sharjah Warriors in the ILT20, which is likely to overlap with that tour, and has reluctantly accepted that his qualities are better suited to playing at home (where he has taken 100 Test wickets at 22.69) than away (36 at 51.88).

“I’ve not been picked yet, and I’d never say never; never say no,” Woakes said about the prospect of travelling to India. “I don’t know if I’d be selected on a tour like that: my away record speaks for itself. I’ve genuinely not thought about it, and there is a lot to come before that.”

When asked if he would accept never playing another Test overseas if it meant playing another two home summers, Woakes said: “I would be happy with that, yeah, for a few different reasons. As much as I’d love to go to India and take 30 wickets in the series, it’s highly unlikely. You get to my age and start thinking, ‘How can I prolong my career?'”

Woakes struggled badly in his most recent Test tour, taking five wickets at 48.80 in the Caribbean in March 2022 and sustaining a knee injury which ruled him out of the following summer. “I don’t want to go to India and do what I did in the Caribbean before, and lose a year’s worth of cricket because of it. You learn from your mistakes and learn from past experiences; it’d be daft for me to do that.”
The longevity of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, now 40 and 37 respectively, has shifted the goalposts for fast bowlers. “Ten years ago, people thinking of an international cricketer playing until they’re 40, it was not even an option. It definitely makes you realise what’s possible, and what you could achieve.”
Yet having opted out of this year’s IPL to give himself a shot at playing in the Ashes, Woakes is conscious of managing his schedule to find a balance between trying to “continue in as many formats as I possibly can, for as long as possible” and maximising his earning potential as he edges towards the later stages of his career.

“In the immediate future, I’m trying to play as much as I can,” he said. “[But] it’s common knowledge that you get to this sort of stage in your career and you also want to look after yourself financially. I don’t think any players should be begrudged for that.

“If my career finished tomorrow, then I’d still be happy with how it’s gone. I’d snatch your hand off for what I’ve achieved and the amount I’ve played for England.”


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