BIRMINGHAM: Chris Woakes is desperate to put weeks of injury frustration behind him by making an England return on his Edgbaston home ground later this week.
The Warwickshire all-rounder had become a mainstay in all three international formats, but a side strain suffered barely two overs into England’s Champions Trophy opener against Bangladesh at The Oval in June kept him out of action for 11 weeks.
Now the 28-year-old hopes to force his way back into national service when Edgbaston hosts England’s inaugural day/night Test, a series opener against the West Indies, starting Thursday.
But during England’s recent 3-1 home series win over South Africa, Woakes’s place as third seamer went to Middlesex’s Toby Roland-Jones, who took eight wickets on debut at The Oval.
Since his injury, Woakes has managed one first-class match.
His five-wicket haul and a second innings fifty during Warwickshire’s 190-run First Division County Championship win over Middlesex at Lord’s led to an England recall.
Both Woakes and Roland-Jones are in England’s 13-man squad for the first of a three-Test series against the West Indies, with the pair seemingly vying for the same spot.
“When you’re injured there’s always someone knocking on the door ready to take your place,” Woakes told reporters at Birmingham’s Edgbaston on Tuesday.
“When you get injured that’s frustrating for you and you have to prove yourself again.
“I hope I have done enough to show that I’m ready, and fingers crossed I do play.”
Born and bred in Birmingham, Woakes expects the crowd to be in full voice for a landmark fixture.
“Whenever you play at Edgbaston it’s always brilliant,” Woakes said.
“The atmosphere will be fantastic, and it will be exciting for the players to be involved with that.”
One of those who is set to be involved is debutant Mark Stoneman.
The Surrey left-hander will be the 12th batsman tried as an England opening partner for Alastair Cook since former captain Andrew Strauss retired five years ago.
With a tour of Australia on the horizon, Woakes wished Stoneman well by saying: “It is the last Test series before the Ashes, and I hope he can come in score some runs for himself and for the team.
“I have played a lot against Mark and I have always found him difficult to bowl to.
“He hits the bad ball for four — which is always frustrating for a bowler — and he’s in good form.”