Manchester, Aug 9 (IANS) Former England captain Naseer Hussain feels Chris Woakes is the most under-valued England cricketer and he would have the all-rounder in the side for the second Test against Pakistan over veteran James Anderson.
Woakes stormed back to form with the bat as he hit a match-winning 84 not out for England against Pakistan in the first Test at Old Trafford. With England 117/5 chasing a target of 277, Woakes joined Jos Buttler in the middle and changed the tide of the game by taking the attack to the charging Pakistan outfit.
He ended up putting on a stand of 139 runs for the seventh wicket and while Buttler eventually departed on 75 off 101 balls, Woakes saw them over the line. This coupled with the two wickets he picked in each innings, including that of Babar Azam in the second, was enough to earn him the player of the match award.
“Chris Woakes is probably the most popular man in that dressing room, probably the most under-valued cricketer by England really,” Hussain said on Sky Sports.
“He always does it, he always goes under the radar and he is always the one who is left out because the superstars in that side – the 500-wicket boys, the nearly 600-wicket boy – but he is always there for England. He said on interview last night that he could do with a few more runs and he certainly delivered today!
“The other lad, Jos Buttler, he is in that inner-circle, in that think-tank. He's had three difficult days, he's dropped a couple of chances and with all the pressures of being on the field for virtually every moment, to go out and at the situation they were win and play like he did – that will be a very popular partnership from Buttler and Woakes,” said Hussain, one of the most respected voices in world cricket.
“These things don't happen very often and that is why the Woakes innings is phenomenal. Jos Buttler in a run chase, he said they went into one-day mode a little bit and then you know that Jos is in his element. He knows what he is doing, and I always felt today that Jos could do that.
“But on a fourth day pitch, a little bit uneven, a little bit of spin, two wrist-spinners, a bloke who is struggling for runs – can't buy a run – dealing in binary digits, to go out and be 80-odd not out and win the game with his batting, that is the bit that surprised everyone.
“On top of that, England were not playing the extra batsman, they left out Zak Crawley so everyone is saying is Woakes good enough to bat at seven? That was the innings that turned the game, it was Woakes.”
Hussain said if star all-rounder Ben Stokes is fit to bowl in the second game, England could go with Woakes over Anderson.
“If Ben Stokes is fit to bowl then England have got some tough selections decisions to make ahead of the second Test and, I think this is the first time I have said this in my career as a broadcaster, I would have Woakes in the side ahead of James Anderson.
“Before this game I had Anderson ahead of Woakes but I think the way Woakes has played in this game, he has out-bowled Anderson and he's obviously out-batted Anderson so he has the edge.
“If Woakes is fit, he plays. Stuart Broad plays and Dom Bess plays. I've always said, have two English type seamers – so I'd probably go Broad and Woakes – and then one tearaway. So that is between Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.”