One of those things - Woakes keen not to wade in on Smith flashpoint

By Sports Desk January 12, 2021

England all-rounder Chris Woakes was keen not to be drawn on Steve Smith's latest controversy - stating only the former Australia captain's actions against India were those of habit or gamesmanship.

Stump cameras showed Smith apparently scuffing up Rishabh Pant's guard in between deliveries as the India wicketkeeper struck a brilliant counter-attacking 97 in Sydney, helping the visitors to a draw in the third Test.

Smith was forced to stand down as Australia skipper and served a ban for his part in the 2018 ball tampering scandal.

His successor Tim Paine also found himself at the centre of controversy after a foul-mouthed exchange with Ravichandran Ashwin, which compounded a dreadful display behind the stumps.

Speaking ahead of England's Test series in Sri Lanka, Woakes looked to remain above the fray when it came to Smith - perhaps mindful of having just entered an Ashes year.

"I'm sure people have got their opinions on it. It's not the first time that I've seen something like that happen," he said.

"The fact it's such a big series, a big player in a big moment probably means it's been blown up a little bit.

"There's only one person who knows whether he was doing it to affect the opposition batsman or not and that's Steve himself.

"You can look at it a few different ways. You can say he was shadow batting, doing what he'd normally do and it's a bit of a habit. Or you could say that he was trying to distract Rishabh. It's one of those things."

Asked whether Australia had been shown to be "up to old tricks again", a smiling Woakes replied: "It's hard for me to say, watching from a million miles away, that he was doing it to get into the Indian batsmen's minds.

"Potentially, but as I said, there's only one person who knows exactly what he was trying to do.

"I know Tim Paine came out and backed him as you'd expect him to do. That's all I can say on the matter."

Woakes was forced to quarantine for the first week of England's tour after travelling to the airport with team-mate Moeen Ali, who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus.

Despite establishing himself as an increasingly pivotal member of Joe Root's side, the 31-year-old acknowledges Thursday's first Test might come too soon for him.

"I'm certainly up against it in terms of time," Woakes said, having revealed his fitness regime over the past week amounted to workouts with fit bands and a medicine ball on his hotel balcony.

"I only had my first bowl yesterday. The other guys have been bowling for nearly a week. The chances of me playing are probably quite slim."

Nevertheless, some unexpected rainfall in Galle might persuade Root to call upon Woakes' mastery of seam and swing on a surface still expected to take plenty of turn.

"The pitch, as you'd expect, does look quite dry. But it has rained quite a bit here in the last few days and the pitch earlier this morning was a bit tacky and spikes went into the surface," he added.

"Whether that plays a part, I don't know."

Related items

  • KL Rahul seals big-money deal with IPL newcomers Lucknow KL Rahul seals big-money deal with IPL newcomers Lucknow

    KL Rahul has officially joined newcomers Lucknow for the new Indian Premier League season, it was revealed on Friday.

    The move was widely expected and has reportedly seen Lucknow spend INR 17 crore (£1.68million) to acquire the India batsman.

    Lucknow, who have yet to reveal their full name ahead of the 2022 season, have also signed up Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.

    Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul arrives after leaving Punjab Kings, the team he previously captained in the competition. He scored 626 IPL runs last season at an average of 62.6, including six half-centuries, with only Ruturaj Gaikwad (635) and Faf du Plessis (633) more prolific with the bat.

    Rahul blasted the most sixes (30), including eight in one innings of 98 against Chennai Super Kings in October.

    Lucknow team owner Sanjiv Goenka said: "KL is not only an outstanding batsman but also a great wicketkeeper.

    "Marcus is a great finisher, a good bowler and a phenomenal fielder."

    Stoinis has previously been a key figure for Delhi Capitals and Lucknow have spent INR 9.2 crore (£910,000) on the Perth man, according to the Times of India.

    Young spinner Ravi Bishnoi has also been signed up after leaving Punjab Kings, as Lucknow's third draft pick.

    According to Cricinfo, Goenka told Star Sports: "We want players to be here for three, four, five, six, seven, eight years.

    "KL will be the captain. I have been very impressed with not only his batting and wicketkeeping, but also his leadership skills. He is evolving, growing, maturing as a leader. He is somebody I would've wanted to lead the team and I do believe that given the right atmosphere, environment, he will emerge as a remarkable leader."

    Former England boss Andy Flower was appointed head coach of Lucknow in December.

    Fellow IPL newcomers Team Ahmedabad have picked Hardik Pandya, who will be their captain, alongside Rashid Khan and Shubman Gill in their draft picks.

     

  • India must learn from South Africa ODI series defeat - Rahul India must learn from South Africa ODI series defeat - Rahul

    KL Rahul says India must learn from their ODI series defeat to South Africa and suggested "a few" changes could be made when they attempt to avoid a whitewash.

    The tourists have been unable to show a positive response to their 2-1 Test series defeat at the hands of the Proteas, suffering back-to-back defeats in the 50-over format.

    India posted 287-6 after Rahul won the toss on a searing hot Friday in Paarl, Rishabh Pant top scoring with a swashbuckling 85 off 71 balls and the captain making 55 at the top of the order.

    South Africa chased down their target with 11 balls to spare, winning by seven wickets after Janneman Malan (91) and Quinton de Kock (78) laid the foundations with an opening stand of 132.

    Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen were both unbeaten on 37, while Bavuma made 35 as the Proteas wrapped up a fourth ODI series win out of five against India, 

    Rahul, skippering the side in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma, stressed that India can use the defeats as part of their development.

    He said during the post-match presentation: "They are playing some really good cricket at home and we are making mistakes in the middle. It's good learning for us.

    "Obviously it's not great to be on the losing side two games in a row. We're trying to get better at things we haven't done well in the past.

    "The middle order is crucial going into a big tournament. We want to get wickets in the middle, create pressure. They showed us the importance of partnerships and the importance of putting pressure on early."

    The tourists must regroup ahead of the third and final ODI at Newlands, where they may make alterations to the side.

    Rahul said: "I'm not saying it as an excuse but we haven't played 50 overs cricket in a long time. It's been tough on the body, staying in the bubbles. It's challenging, but I'm not saying we don't love challenges.

    "[We have to] look ahead to the third game and try to win that one. Maybe a few changes, may not be, I can't say."

  • England primed for T20I lift after Ashes debacle, Windies must turn the tide England primed for T20I lift after Ashes debacle, Windies must turn the tide

    England's T20 side have the opportunity to lift the gloom following the Ashes debacle when they start a five-match series against West Indies on Saturday.

    The Test side were hammered 4-0 by Australia and only avoided a whitewash after clinging on for a draw in a rain-affected match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

    As a huge inquest into that pitiful failure Down Under begun, the T20I squad was preparing to lock horns with the Windies in the Caribbean, where Paul Collingwood is standing in for Chris Silverwood as head coach.

    England top the rankings, but missed out on T20 World Cup glory when they were beaten by New Zealand at the semi-final stage last November.

    West Indies never looked like retaining the trophy in the United Arab Emirates, losing four and drawing one of their five matches.

    Things went from bad to worse for the Windies when they were whitewashed 3-0 in Pakistan, before losing an ODI series to Ireland 2-1 on home soil.

    The tourists are not at full strength so soon after the Ashes, but Eoin Morgan still has a strong squad - with a mix of new faces and experienced heads - as they build towards another T20 World Cup in Australia this year.

    England have won four consecutive T20Is versus the struggling Windies, who have lost eight of their past nine matches in the shortest format ahead of the opening match of the series at Kensington Oval,

    We pick out some of the standout performers who could light up the series ahead of the opener in Bridgetown, Barbados.

    Living up to the hype, Roy ready to fire

    England fell short in their mission to become 50-over and T20I world champions, but they were outstanding before an expensive over from Chris Jordan swung the semi-final in the Black Caps' favour.

    Liam Livingstone showed his prowess with the ball in that loss to the Windies and the clean-striking all-rounder should have a huge part to play in England's bid to dethrone Australia later this year.

    Livingstone can put on a show in the Caribbean and there could be fireworks from Jason Roy, who blasted 115 from only 47 balls in a warm-up game against a Barbados Cricket Association President's XI this week. 

    Rebuilding job for Windies

    West Indies were bowled out for only 55 in their defeat to England at the T20 World Cup, with Adil Rashid taking incredible figures of 4-2.

    That just about summed up their tournament and they must turn the corner under the leadership of Kieron Pollard, who retained the captaincy.

    Nicholas Pooran is set to play in his 50th T20I this weekend and the vice-captain is among the experienced players Pollard will need to step up.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.