Injury puts England’s Chris Woakes in race against time to make Test opener

England's Chris Woakes. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA
England's Chris Woakes. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA
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CHRIS WOAKES admits he will struggle to be fit for England’s first Test against South Africa next month.

The all-rounder revealed the extent of the side strain, sustained bowling against Bangladesh last Thursday, which ruled him out of the rest of the Champions Trophy.

Woakes faces up to six weeks on the sidelines, which makes him a major doubt for the opening Test against the South Africans beginning on July 6.

“It’s a left side strain and there is a tear in the muscle,” said the 28-year-old on Tuesday.

“It’s a grade-two injury, which is not terrible news, but it’s not great news at the same time. They say it’s roughly a four to six-week injury, and it’s more likely to be towards the six when I am back playing competitive cricket.

“I’m on day five of recovery now, and the physios say for the first 10 to 14 days there’s not a lot we can do other than rest it.

“You don’t rule it out, but I’m probably up against it for the first Test. Sometimes these things heal quicker, sometimes they take longer, so we have to play it by ear.

“It’s also one of those things you can’t rush back - if you do, it can just ping again. You have to make sure you’re right before you come back. The timing of it is frustrating, it’s terrible, but it’s one of those things.”

Instead of opening the bowling for England against New Zealand at Cardiff on Tuesday, Woakes was at Lord’s with 500 children attending the Chance to Shine and MCC Spirit of Cricket Open.

He kept tabs on the score, though, and despite Jason Roy falling cheaply again Woakes backed the opener to recapture his blistering form sooner rather than later.

“Whenever you are out of the runs and not quite firing you are always just that one score away,” he added.

“I think he just needs to get to 25, 30, and then he will be away. He is the sort of player that when he gets going, he is so hard to stop. Eoin Morgan has backed him since the tournament started and rightly so.

“He has been so good for us in the last 18 months and the way we have changed how we play one-day cricket, he has been at the forefront of it.

“It helps that Alex Hales is playing really well at the top of the order as well and once Jason gets past that barrier then, all of a sudden, once he gets to 30 the opposition bowlers will be worried because he can go and score 150. Those are the sort of guys you want in your team.”

* Chris Woakes was attending the Chance to Shine and MCC Spirit of Cricket Open, where 500 kids were learning about the values of the sport. Find out more about the initiative at www.lords.org