Chris Woakes has transformed his Test career this summer in time for a glorious homecoming, and repaid the faith of illustrious team-mate James Anderson too.
Woakes’s 26 wickets in four Tests since his return at Durham two months ago – and 221 runs in six innings – has born out what Anderson was saying about him all along.
The bowling all-rounder will therefore begin his first Test at his home ground at Edgbaston with soaring confidence as England seek to consolidate their fightback against Pakistan following last week’s series-levelling win at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old has long known his prospective Test colleagues believed in him, but after six matches, the last an unrewarding misadventure at Centurion in January which brought him a solitary wicket at the cost of 144 runs, his statistics were unsustainable.
Glowing references from England’s all-time leading wicket-taker were all well and good, but Woakes had to put some telling figures in the book – for his own self-esteem, and to silence a growing number of detractors.
He has done both resoundingly, and vindicated Anderson’s sound judgment.
“It’s unbelievable to think that someone like Jimmy, England’s best ever bowler, has even mentioned you in that context,” said Woakes.
“I think it was after the India Test at the Rose Bowl (two years ago), and I felt I’d bowled pretty well – as well as I could, probably.
“Jimmy was getting the plaudits and he was saying ‘Chris Woakes bowled brilliantly, should have got more’ –something like that is an honour coming from him.”
Woakes was encouraged, even in his toughest times, but still needed to prove himself.
He added: “He’s England’s best ever bowler and you think if someone like that is saying it, you must have something. But until you actually do it, it’s hard to believe.”
Anderson, who turned 34 on Saturday, never had any doubts.
In the veteran’s absence for the first Investec Test at Lord’s with a shoulder injury overcome in time for Manchester, it was the apprentice who kept England competitive with wonderful match figures of 11-102.
Anderson said: “He’s done brilliantly. Everyone is delighted for him, because he’s the sort of guy who fits into the dressing room well – a really nice guy who works really hard both on his own game and for the team.
“It is fantastic to see what a pivotal player he can be for England over the coming years.”