England goes into the Durham test against Sri Lanka with a lot of confidence after a dominating outing at Leeds, where the hosts won by an innings. The only blow England had to deal with in the first test was the injury to all-rounder Ben Stokes. Stokes has been ruled out of the second test and replacing him is Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes.
Woakes heads into the game with a lot of confidence as he grabbed a nine-wicket haul in an innings against Durham recently. However, replacing someone like Stokes, who was the Man of the Series against South Africa earlier this year, will be far from an easy task. In the pre-match press conference, England skipper Alastair Cook backed Woakes to live up to the expectations.
“He is another one of those guys we have not seen the best of in international cricket,” Cook said. “There is no doubt in my mind that facing him in the nets, seeing him bowl for Warwickshire or knowing his character that he has a lot going for him. He is really respected. “He just needs that performance to make him feel settled in the side and help him feel he belongs in international cricket. I have no doubt about that. I am really excited about him playing and he has the next couple of games with Ben out. He can make future selection really hard.”
Cook, though, was quick to admit that Stokes’ injury was a big blow to England. “We enjoy playing with this balance of the side,” Cook said. “We know Ben balances the side really well, but he could get injured again and obviously we need the competition in that all-rounder place.
“Ben is going to be a big loss for us. But injuries are part and parcel of a side and we need to know we can play without him. Chris has that opportunity to fill the all-rounder role and Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow go up a spot in the batting, so it gives them more of an opportunity,” said Cook.
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