Chris Woakes has been saluted as a "perfect role model" as he prepares to play in England's crucial ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup clash with India at Edgbaston on Sunday.
England’s players will return to their favourite home ground under pressure after defeat to Australia at Lord’s left them little further margin for error in the race for qualification.
Eoin Morgan’s side need to make the most of the Edgbaston Effect – their record there across the formats is better than at any other home venue – and Warwickshire all-rounder Woakes will be at the heart of matters.
Neal Abberley said from the start that he could bat and, from a bowling point of view, from a very early age he could swing the ball and had the best natural length I have ever come across. He was always technically good and over the years has honed his skills.Steve Perryman
Everyone connected with the former Aston Manor and Walmley player will be willing him on to success at the ground he has always called home – no-one more so than his long-time mentor Steve Perryman.
During his long service on the coaching staff at Edgbaston, Perryman’s guidance was key to the development of countless young cricketers. His fellow Brummie Woakes is among those in whom he takes the greatest pride, not least because, while constantly improving as a cricketer, Woakes has remained exactly the same grounded and likeable bloke he ever was.
“Chris is a perfect role model,” Perryman said. “As a young cricketer learning his trade he always was very low-maintenance. As a lad he was a great listener and he has stayed that way.
“As he has got better he has always wanted to keep learning. People would suggest things to him and he would come back to me and say ‘what do you think?’ It’s great to see he has got the rewards he deserves and I am proud to have helped him become the top-class cricketer that he is.”
Formerly a talented swing bowler with the Bears himself Perryman has been a major influence on Woakes ever since first seeing him in action as a 13-year-old at Aston Manor.
“He was raw but you could see what was there,” he said. “Neal Abberley said from the start that he could bat and, from a bowling point of view, from a very early age he could swing the ball and had the best natural length I have ever come across. He was always technically good and over the years has honed his skills.
“Part of that was not trying to bowl too fast. Chris has always moved the ball around and we didn’t want him to chase the extra couple of yards of pace at the expense of that. He needed to bowl at a pace he was comfortable with and he did that and then built up his pace naturally.
“It’s all been such a natural progression. He played hardly any 2nd XI cricket, by-passing the 2nds because he was good enough to go straight in to the first team, and he has taken every step up in his stride because of his natural ability, helped by him having exactly the right attitude.”