Asked to select his My Bears XI from all those he has played with for Warwickshire, Chris Woakes admits he is "spoilt for choice."
Since making his debut in 2007, Woakes has helped Warwickshire lift every domestic trophy and lined up with many wonderful players.
Chris Woakes My Bears XI
- Dom Sibley
- Varun Chopra
- Ian Bell
- Jonathan Trott
- Jim Troughton
- Tim Ambrose
- Rikki Clarke
- Neil Carter
- Keith Barker
- Jeetan Patel
- Chris Wright
- Tony Frost
But to kick off, at the top of the order, he doesn’t have to look far – just across the current England dressing room…
“At number one, it’s got to be Dom Sibley,” Woakes said. “He is everything you need from an opening batsman. He’s a bit ‘old school’ and loves to bat long and bat teams out of the game which is a great characteristic to have in the long format. He is a great guy as well and a really good team-mate to have around the place.
“For his opening partner, I’ll have Varun Chopra. He was such a mainstay for us when we won the championship in 2012 and so often set the tone for the innings. He was great to bat with. I had a couple of good partnerships with him down at Taunton. He was very pleasing on the eye when he was in form…and quite the opposite when he was out of nick, as I am sure he would be first to say!
“Three and four speak for themselves. Trott and Bell – two Warwickshire and England legends. Whenever they came back to the Bears from England duty they both put in performances which proved their class. I remember I hadn’t been playing too long when Belly came back and scored a double hundred against Gloucestershire at Edgbaston. The difference in quality was huge.Chris Woakes
“Trotty just ground the opposition down. If there was one person you wanted to bat to save a Test match, I think you would probably choose Trotty. He didn’t care what people around him were saying, but just stuck to the job. He produced so many great knocks for Warwickshire.
“To compete the top order, at five, I’ve got Jim Troughton. Quite a flashy left-hander and really nice to watch – he’d play some shots and you would just say, ‘wow, how has he done that?’ The sort of batsman who would block one ball and then smack the next very same ball through the covers on the up.
“Troughts was a great captain as well. I really enjoyed my time playing under him. We had some great years. I remember after the last championship game in 2011, at the Rose Bowl, when we had just been pipped for the title, him telling us we had done ourselves proud and next year would be our year…and he was right. That we went on and won it was a lot down to his leadership.”
Into the middle order…and Woakes’ give the wicketkeeping gloves to Tim Ambrose.
“One thing that always struck me about Timmy is how easy he made things look. He arrived from Sussex with the nickname ‘Freak’ because he could turn his hand to anything and be good at it. His cricket showed that, the way he took the ball behind the stumps and made it look so easy.
“He was a great team man. Whatever the situation, he would be thinking about the team and he got us out of so many tricky situations when we were four or five down early. A great guy and a great player.
“At seven, I’ve chosen Rikki Clarke. He could bowl 90 mph, chipped in with some good runs and big hundreds and I have never seen a better slip fielder. Whenever there was a nick to second slip, I started celebrating because I knew he would be gobbling it up.
“At number eight, it’s Neil Carter. I played my early years with Carts and thoroughly enjoyed playing cricket with him. A great Bear, he bowled left arm at serious pace and I think people don’t give him enough credit for how quick he could be. I remember a one-day game against Leicestershire at Oakham School when it was a little bit dark and a little bit greasy and he bowled one of the quickest opening spells I’ve seen from a Warwickshire bowler. He could also take games away from teams with the bat. He was a wildcard…sometimes bowlers just didn’t know what to do against him.Chris Woakes
“Keith Barker is at nine…it means two left-armers in my 11 but I have to pick Barks for his all-round ability – taking the new ball and his ability to score hundreds. He was brilliant for us and I really enjoyed batting with him. Over the years I’ve spoken to players we played against and a lot of them say, ‘we used to hate you and Barks coming in at eight and nine because we knew you were capable of scoring hundreds.’
“When he joined the Bears his action was all over the place, but he did a lot of hard work with Pop Welch and made himself a brilliant new-ball bowler. He swung the ball beautifully and hit the right-handers’ pads for fun.
“At ten it’s got to be Jeetan Patel. A Warwickshire legend, Bear through and through and world class spinner. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t play more international cricket because he was clearly good enough to.
“He fell in love with Warwickshire and the Bears and gave his all every time he went out in the field. A lot of times he was playing with half a knee or half an elbow but he would just battle through. He was the best spinner in county cricket for a long time…and is a mate for life.
“At 11…Chris Wright. Over the years he worked with Pop Welch he became a really good bowler and the partnership he had with Barks was brilliant. They terrorised batsmen in county cricket. You always felt that, if you need a breakthrough, give the ball to Wrighty and he would find you a wicket. Another great lad in the dressing room, always full of beans and keeping everyone amused, and he was a more than capable batsmen, so my 11 bats down to 11!”
And finally, Woakesy’s twelfth man…
“Twelfth man? I’ll go a bit left field…Tony Frost – purely on that incredible year when he came off the groundstaff back into the team and scored an absolute load of runs. He just went out and batted loads of time and was a huge part of us being promoted. He batted beautifully for a double hundred at Chelmsford in the match that clinch promotion. What he also did, which was an eye-opener for myself as a young player, was train incredibly hard when he came back. I hadn’t seen anyone train that hard before.”
So there are the 12…and one name that isn’t in there: C.R.Woakes.
“I think that team will do just fine,” he said. “Maybe I could be 12th man now and then. I’ll run the drinks!”
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