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With smooth and and clean action, Chris Woakes often pitches the ball in the corridor of uncertainty, skidding it away from a right-hander with his natural out-swinger. In fact, bowling in the same channel in no longer a selling point, for batsmen these days no more pursue the art of playing conventional cricket. To put things into perspective, line-and-length bowlers do not pose a threat. They have to vary their pace, length as well as their mindset, for batsmen these days have altered the art of stitching runs. As a result, Woakes could take only 2 wickets off 74 overs in his first three Tests.

One of the commentators called him a boring bowler when India toured England in 2014. And why not? He ran in hard and bowled the same kind of deliveries, producing no menace whatsoever. But his abilities are not restricted to bowling. He is armed with a descent batting technique. He batted at No. 6 in his debut match, scoring 25 and 17 not out. For that matter, he was drafted in as an-rounder a role England longed to find after Andrew Flintoff’s retirement. All the same, Woakes did not wore the panache and dominance Flintoff flaunted. But his First-Class figures show a clear picture.

In 121 First-Class matches, he has scored 4,829 runs at 37.14, including 9 hundreds and 19 fifties. In the bowling department he emulated a similar performance, taking 421 wickets at 24.62.

Hailing from Warwickshire, the 27-year-old has has achieved a plenty in his short span. Now that we know our visitor, let us dive deep into his CV.

In his third County season, he scalped as many as 45 wickets at 20.48 topping the average chart. Meanwhile, the selection committee took notice of his all-round skills. And soon he was being spoken about in England media.

In the next season, he scored his maiden First-Class century unbeaten 131 against Hampshire. In addition, he bagged 58 wickets at 21.48. In short, he only got better with time.

Though well-suited for red-ball cricket, he donned England’s jersey for the first time in a T20I, against Australia. He took a wicket, conceding 34 runs. Nonetheless, it was with the bat that he shot to fame with.

The scorecard read 130 for 7 when Woakes took the crease, with England needing 29 off 27 balls. Australia had the likes of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Shane Watson in their armoury to bowl in the death overs. Therefore, pressure was being mounted on the 22-year-old debutant. If truth be told, that was not the case, for Woakes took only 4 balls to his first international six, and that too against the speedster Tait.

He kept his cool at a crucial juncture eased Lee’s full-toss past point.

England then needed 1 off the last ball. And as fate would have it, Woakes enters international cricket by playing one over mid-wicket, hitting the winning runs.

As a matter of fact, that is his USP: stay calm under pressure. For a fast bowler, he has a sweet smile on his face, and neither does he sledge not even in the Ashes.

In the same tour, he pouched 6 for 45 but was later criticised for his expensive 0 for 73. A topsy-turvy journey had thus began…

Meanwhile, Ben Stokes supposedly the next Andrew Flintoff was making headlines with his stunning performances. And it was his magnificent 120 at Perth that grabbed more eyeballs. For a while, Woakes was sidelined by the selectors. However, Woakes continued doing what he does the best.

Another English summer and another successful county season…

Woakes took 56 wickets at 21.78, his average never fading away. On the other hand, he scored 579 at 21.78.

Meanwhile, when Stokes was ruled out due to injury, selectors finally gave a nod to Woakes to fill the spot. But, like mentioned in the beginning, he bowled tidy but failed to take wickets.

Woakes journey from First-Class to international was in a downward spiral, especially with the ball. In shorter formats, he failed to maintain his economy; and in Tests, he failed to maintain his average. In his defence, he bowled with the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad the most lethal pace duo for the past half a decade. Imitating their brilliance was not an easy task to accomplish, for he needed more exposure in international cricket.

And after 4 years of struggle in international cricket, Woakes finally found his mojo in Sri Lanka’s tour of England 2016. He took 8 wickets and scored 39, 66, 0 and 35* in the two matches he played.

Be that as it may. His hard work paid off in the 4-Test series against Pakistan, for he was adjudged Man of the Series. In one of the articles post that series, I wrote: “He did nothing wrong this summer. You give him any task and he excels in any given condition or situation. Fluent with the bat and immaculate with the ball, Woakes was at the pinnacle of his form in the series.

If you go by the numbers, these words and articulation will not justify his superior performance. In four matches, he picked up 26 wickets at 16.73, including two five-fors (second best Englishman being Stuart Broad with 13 wickets). With the blade, he scored 177 runs at 35.40, which is even more impressive for a lower middle-order batsman.”

Woakes coming in at No.7 will be a handy batsman in India. Woakes even in the series against Bangladesh showed good resistance and provided rear guard action. Woakes displayed grit against Mehedi Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan. On conditions, which will be more favourable to spinners, England will need a handy lower order batsmen, and Woakes adds depth to the team.

India are known to be a team which can let go off the noose after downing the top-order which has been their perennial problem. With Jonathan Bairstow and Moeen Ali already providing resistance Woakes will only add positivity to their batting prowess.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)