Craig Overton is likely to share a new ball with Woakes after Robinson leaves the 12-man squad
“[Robinson has] had a good start to his Test career, so naturally he’ll be a big miss,” Woakes said. “At the same time it gives people opportunities. This tour is not just about opportunities we’re trying to win cricket matches but at the same time it gives that chance to someone potentially making their test debut or who’s been waiting backstage for a good time, and to show that he can do it at this level.”
Speaking after training at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, where England are due to start their three-Test run against the West Indies, Woakes insisted he expected a rocky start to Operation Red- Ball Reset as tourists seek to adopt a new mentality.
“It’s not going to be an easy Test series for us by any means,” he said. “We haven’t won many Test matches here in the last 50 or 60 years from what I have heard, so that’s not the case at all.means going to be a walk.
“I think it’s more of a mindset, really. In Australia maybe we got to a place where people were thinking more internally, thinking on personal levels rather than thinking fully about the situation in as a whole and how to win team cricket matches.
“We try to focus on that in particular, last week or so we tried to focus on how we can do things better as a unit rather than individually. Naturally it’s a game that produces individual performances but we always have to be better as a collective we can’t just rely on certain individuals to always step in and raise our hands we have to do it as a group and that’s something we have tried to concentrate in the 10 days we’ve been here.”
“Yeah, definitely. Almost everyone would have been except maybe a few. It would have been silly not to. [I’m] delighted to be here, to be supported and to have another chance to get into it, I wish Australia were better but obviously they are not.
“It’s clear that my away record is not as good as my home record, but I don’t prepare in a different way. I look at the conditions and try to find the best way to perform on a given surface. I’ve never played a test in the Caribbean, so I’m excited for the challenge of it. It’s a Dukes ball here, so hopefully it might suit me a little better.
Far from being let down, Woakes was instead the main beneficiary of interim general manager Andrew Strauss’ comments before the series that these games represent a chance for “some of the bowlers who have been on the team to play either a slightly different or more than a senior management role”.
For Woakes, his role is both slightly different and more senior. In the absence of James Anderson and Broad, Woakes will take the new ball – something he has done for England in just 13 of his 42 Test matches. He will also be the de facto attacking leader, with Overton set to play his seventh Test in Robinson’s absence and England banking on Mark Wood’s availability after illness for extra pace; the uncapped Saqib Mahmood is the other bowling option in the 12.
“It’s something I’m passionate about,” Woakes said, “it’s not like I’m putting any more pressure on myself, I think we’ve talked a lot over the last ten days and something I have removed from Australia is to make sure you don’t take playing for England for granted.
“We’ve worked so incredibly hard to get to this point, to become an England player and to get into that environment. You know that’s easily taken away from you. It’s about making sure every game is really important to you. , you wear the Three Lions and you give your best every time you go out.”
Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby