Chris Woakes. (Getty Images)
Chris Woakes. (Getty Images)

Chris Woakes, England’s all-rounder says he does not expect “personal” issues to be used in any sledging during the upcoming Ashes series. The build-up to the first Test, which gets underway in Brisbane next Wednesday, has been overshadowed by racism and sexism scandals.

English cricket has been engulfed by claims of institutional racism, while Tim Paine stepped down from his role as Australia captain last month following sexting revelations.

England’s Chris Woakes Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
England’s Chris Woakes Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Chris Woakes: Needs To Figure Out To Keep Steve Smith Quiet

England paceman Chris Woakes called Thursday for the racism and sexting scandals that have overshadowed preparations for the opening Test against Australia (December 8) not to be used for sledging during the series.

Australian skipper Tim Paine quit over a text-message scandal while English cricket has been engulfed in claims of institutional racism mostly by former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq. But Chris Woakes said he was confident both sides would let the cricket do the talking when play starts at the Gabba ground next Wednesday.

Chris Woakes said: “Whatever goes on the field, goes on the field, and an Ashes series raises that rivalry.”

“I think what’s happened in both camps, a lot of the issues are personal and cricket is played best when that sort of stuff is left to the side and we let the skills do the talking, which I’m sure will happen,” said Chris Woakes.

“In my experience, playing in three Ashes series, it’s not overstepped the line once when I’ve been around. I don’t see it being any different. I’m sure the cricket will be hard-fought, as it always is, and it will be a great series to watch,” said Chris Woakes.

Chris Woakes says England is ready to meet the twin-pronged challenge of bowling with the Kookaburra ball and trying to dismiss Australia’s star batsman Steve Smith. The former Australia captain was named man of the series in the 2019 Ashes in England, scoring three hundred and three fifties for a total of 774 runs at an average of 110.57.

Steve Smith (Image Credit: Twitter)
Steve Smith (Image Credit: Twitter)

“I’ve bowled at Steve quite a lot. He’s a world-class player and had a lot of success against us as an England team,” Chris Woakes said.

“We’ve got to figure out ways to keep him quiet because, relatively speaking, when he does well Australia do well. I feel I have got him a few times but he’s probably been on 150 at the time! It would be nice to get him a little bit earlier and we need some good plans against him,” Chris Woakes said.

On comparing the Kookaburra ball to the Dukes, which is used in England, Chris Woakes said: “It’s very different to what we’re used to back at home. But we’ve got a lot of experienced guys who have played all around the world and used the Kookaburra quite a bit.”

So I suppose we’ll touch base with those guys and see what works. It’s trying to experiment different things with it because trying to get the ball to move sideways is probably the biggest challenge here. But obviously trying to get the ball off the straight is quite important.

“You naturally bowl a bit shorter here, but you don’t want to get drawn into bowling too short. Whichever team adapts to the (Gabba) pitch will probably come out on top.”

Preparations for both sides have been undermined by rain with England’s three-day practice match last week washed out except for 29 overs. England did get some action on Thursday as the touring England Lions reached 226 for four against them at Wellington Point in Queensland.

Alex Carey Set To Debut Instead Of Tim Paine Who Took An Indefinite Break After A Texting Scandal

Ben Stokes, playing for the first time since taking an indefinite break from all cricket in July to prioritize his mental well-being and rest a finger which he had fractured, took two wickets.

“The weather hasn’t been what you’d probably expect it to be in Australia,” said Chris  Woakes, who says he can play in the same Ashes team as fellow all-rounder Ben Stokes.

File picture of Alex Carey.© AFP
File picture of Alex Carey.© AFP

“But it was great to be out there and get some match practice with England. The lads have trained quite a bit but nothing better than being out in the middle and training for what we’re going to be coming up against in the next few weeks. You can do as many indoor nets and net sessions as you want, but middle practice is really important going into such a big series.”

Australia has confirmed their big selection call, with Alex Carey set to make his Test debut in the series opener, taking the wicketkeeping gloves from departed captain Tim Paine as Pat Cummins prepares to skipper the hosts.

Alex Carey was Thursday confirmed as Australia’s wicketkeeper for the first two Ashes Tests against England after scandal-hit former skipper Tim Paine stepped down. The 30-year-old has played limited-overs cricket for Australia and stood in as the one-day skipper in the West Indies this year, but is yet to feature in a Test match.

The 32-year old Chris Woakes could only feature in one Test this summer, playing in the fourth Test at the Oval against India. He recovered from his heel injury to replace Sam Curran and picked up four wickets in the first innings.

Chris Woakes followed it by scoring a crucial fifty. Before that, he played a stellar role in the August 2020 Test against Pakistan where he scored a crucial unbeaten 84 in the 2nd innings of the 1st Test.