WORLD CUP 2019
Chris Woakes bagged a four-fer in the Bristol ODI © Getty
Chris Woakes, the England pacer, believes the key for bowlers to be successful in the upcoming world cup will be to try and take wickets rather than be defensive. Following the last world cup, 300 plus runs have become a norm in ODIs in England. In fact, in the ongoing series between England and Pakistan, in the two completed matches so far, the visitors have lost both their games despite posting mammoth 300 plus scores.
“I’m glad I don’t have to,” Woakes said on how he would bowl to England’s current batting line up. “One-day cricket, the way it’s going, it’s tough being a bowler, there’s no doubt, especially when you are on small pitches (grounds), fast outfields and flat wickets like today was.
“I think you have to try to be aggressive as a bowler or at least have a bit of an aggressive mindset to take wickets, because we all know as bowlers, when you get into that defensive mindset and you are just thinking purely about damage limitation that’s probably when you are at your most vulnerable.
“Always trying to take that attacking approach is probably the best way and if I ever had to bowl at them (England’s top seven), which I probably will do in county cricket at some point, I’d try to get them out — however that is.”
It is, however, a situation that the visiting bowlers will prepare for mentally before coming to the world cup, he feels. “They (bowlers from visiting teams) must have been playing the amount of cricket we have as well. They know the white-ball game’ obviously got harder for the bowlers. A lot of players have played in the IPL and things like that — bit of a graveyard for the bowlers. I think they know that it’s going to be probably a high-scoring World Cup, particularly at certain grounds, but I don’t think it will be a shock to many people.”
Under the prevailing circumstances where conditions have come to heavily favour the batsmen, Woakes believes his ilk has to set new barriers of what amounts to a good bowling performance and what does not.
“From a bowling point of view, it is hard work, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “But things change. As I said today, if you went under sixes (six an over) that would have been an incredible effort. I just think you need to change your mindset a little bit.
“Going for 30 runs in your 10, unless you get a surface where 250 is going to be a good score, those days are gone so your expectations need to change as a bowler. You still need to take wickets but actually sometimes you are willing to leak a few boundaries to get that extra wicket where that probably didn’t used to be the case.”
The theory falls in sync with his performance at Bristol, in the third ODI, where he returned figures of 4 for 65. While it is a shade worse than what he wished, it is a figure that stands close to the bar he has set for a good bowling performance in prevailing conditions.
“Gone are the days of 3 for 20. Especially on a wicket like that and a ground like that, under sixes would have been really good. I’d like a few balls back and if I could a couple better balls that (instead) went to the fence, four for 58, I think, would have been very good.
“There’s always a couple of deliveries you would like back but a pretty good day at the office. You are always trying to pick up wickets, particularly with the new ball and obviously to get a couple at the end was nice but I’d take four for 65 (he in fact took four for 67) on that wicket most days to be honest.”
With Jofra Archer impressing in the rain-curtailed first ODI, the fear looms large that one of the bowlers selected in England’s preliminary squad for the world cup could find himself out once the final side is announced. On being asked if he feels safe of his position after the four-fer, Woakes said, “Safe is probably not the word, but you always feel like you need to put in performances.
“You hope you are safe, but I suppose until that squad’s selected you’re not. Hopefully I am, but will see.”