Chris Woakes says he can hold no grudge with Jonny Bairstow for a third missed chance off his bowling in the past six months given the amount of work the England wicketkeeper puts into improving his game behind the stumps.
Bairstow’s drop off the opener Dimuth Karunaratne from Woakes’s first ball in Sri Lanka’s reply on the second day at Lord’s added to the life he gave to South Africa’s Hashim Amla during the first Test at Durban last December and an edge that flew between keeper and first slip off the bat of Quinton de Kock in the Centurion finale of that series.
For a seamer striving to make an impact at Test level and who remains wicketless in the match, Woakes could be forgiven for becoming a touch peeved with his team-mate. The 27-year-old remains philosophical about his misfortune, however, with the Australian umpire Rod Tucker – present for the first and most recent of the three chances – instead taking the blame.
Woakes said: “At the time you are really frustrated when anyone drops a catch but with Jonny today, we know how hard he is working. I don’t know anyone who works as hard as he does, with both his batting – which he’s excelling at – and his keeping. He does so much work with [coach] Bruce French and is giving 110%. That’s all you can ask for from your team-mates.
“Having seen it back it looked like it has wobbled away from Jonny a little bit and I have heard it can be difficult to keep at Lord’s. You have to ask keepers why. Cricket is a strange game at the best of times, so we can add that to the list.
“I had a word with Rod Tucker, though, because every time it seems to happen, he’s at my end. When the first ball went down today he couldn’t believe it – he feels like he is the curse. But I honestly don’t believe I’m an unlucky bowler. That’s the way it’s gone the last few Tests. I feel I am bowling well and, if I keep doing the right things, I will get my rewards.”
Woakes earlier combined with Bairstow for a stand of 144 in 39.4 overs, registering his maiden Test half-century from No8 and proving his value as an all-round package in this England side; chipping a catch back to spinner Rangana Herath on 66 came through a touch of frustration, as well as an inkling that a place on the honours board was possible.
Asked if a Test hundred had gone begging, he replied: “100%. I hadn’t given a chance and felt I was seeing it well. At Lord’s it is always at the back of your mind, which perhaps it shouldn’t be, so it is frustrating and it would have been nice to [have] kicked on and got three figures and my name on the board.
“But to be fair to Herath he’s obviously a good bowler. He came around the wicket, chucked it into the rubbish for a bit, I got frustrated and gave my wicket away. Hopefully I’ll learn from that. I’ve just been told by the skipper I owe a career‑best round of drinks, so that’s going to cost me.”
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