By Chris Stocks
Chris Woakes admits he is managing a “chronic” injury to his right knee, but is hopeful of playing all five Tests against India later this summer.
The Warwickshire all-rounder sustained a 15-centimetre tear to his right quad during the final Test against Pakistan at Headingley, an injury that has seen him miss the entire ODI series against Australia and makes him a doubt for the start of next month’s three one-dayers against India.
A long-standing knee injury was a major factor in his latest fitness battle. England have already ruled Woakes out of playing any cricket before the India ODI series, although the player himself is hoping to return earlier.
The 29-year-old says: “I did the quad on the last day at Headingley. I didn’t think it was going to be too bad at first, but the scans showed a big tear and because I’ve had an ongoing problem with the knee and I haven’t been able to strengthen the leg as much as I’d like to it’s kind of buckled under the weight of playing a Test.
“I’ve had the same problem for about eight or nine years and it’s been niggling away at me, but I’ve got on with it and put up with the odd niggle because it’s not the sort of thing that will get better overnight.
“It just flares up and during the Headingley Test it felt sore, but compared to a couple of weeks ago it feels like a million dollars.
“I’m aiming for the India ODIs and, fingers crossed, I can play some cricket before then so I’m ready. The word chronic makes it look like it’s drastic, but the knee is not something I’m worried about.
“I’ve had it for the last nine years, but the quad is something I need to strengthen.
“You don’t go throughout your career without getting injuries. I want to be fit for England for every game but of course I want to be fit for next summer. That means doing my gym work and sitting down with strength and conditioning coaches to see the best way I can do that.”
Next summer could be a defining one for Woakes as he should, fitness permitting, play a major role in England’s World Cup and Ashes campaigns.
Before then, there are five Tests against India in six weeks and Woakes is hoping to play a full part despite the hectic schedule.
“It’s chaos, isn’t it?” he says. “I’m sure at some point rotation will come into it because it will be difficult to keep the same bowlers. I like to think by the time that comes round I’ll have plenty of cricket under my belt and will be in the best possible place I can be.
“It is frustrating because you never want to miss any cricket, especially when you’re in the side and doing reasonably well. You don’t want to give anyone the chance of coming in and taking your spot, particularly with the World Cup coming up, but that’s the way it is and I just have to try to get back as quick as possible and make sure my body’s in the best shape possible.”
The World Cup means Woakes is likely to miss next year’s Indian Premier League, with the player admitting he wants to be in peak condition for the tournament.
Woakes played for Royal Challengers Bangalore this year and it has not gone unnoticed he has been struck down with injury after playing in India following England’s marathon winter in Australia and New Zealand.
“The IPL is a great thing for players to have the opportunities to improve at the same time as earning a hell of a lot of money, but at the same time I think next year will be tricky,” he says.
“If I don’t get retained that’s when I will have to ask myself whether it’s worth going in the auction again with such a big summer ahead.
“It’s something I’ll know nearer the time, especially going into what could be the biggest summer of my career. You want to make sure you’re in tip top condition for a home World Cup. At some point something’s got to give.”
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