Chris Woakes can't wait to get back in action for Warwickshire in the Royal London Cup opener against Yorkshire at Edgbaston on Friday.
The all-rounder has recovered from the knee injury which truncated his England involvement during the winter and is raring to go in the 50-over competition for the Bears.
Woakes played in England’s ODI series win in Sri Lanka before Christmas before being left out of a Test side loaded with spinners to suit the conditions. Then in the West Indies in January, after playing in a warm-up game without discomfort, a knee injury which has troubled him sporadically over the years flared up again.
The Royal London One-Day Cup will be really exciting this year. The games come thick and fast and there are a lot of England players around, like Joe at Yorkshire – he’s a world-class player and would be a nice wicket to get.Chris Woakes
So it was back to Birmingham for the 30-year-old for recovery and rehab – and, last week, back with the Bears Second XI to build up fully to face Joe Root and co in the Royal London Cup on Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to getting going again after a bit of a tricky winter,” he said. “It’s always nice to pull on the Bears shirt and get back out there and it will good to play some cricket again.
“It’s an injury that has always been there and has needed managing. It has good days and bad days but I guess any fast-bowler is always nursing something. Out in the Caribbean it just got to the stage where it wasn’t quite manageable but since I got back I have had a couple of injections which settled it down and I am feeling good.
“Last week was very busy in terms of getting back up to speed. At the start of the week I was still bowling into a net but then I trained fully with the second team for three days. It was great to be back in a team environment and working in a group because when you do rehab you do a lot of stuff on your own in the gym.”
Woakes is now aiming to help Warwickshire to a winning start in the Royal London, a tournament in which they have enjoyed plenty of success over the years but narrowly failed to qualify from the North Group last season.
“We played some good 50-over cricket last year and were unlucky to miss out on qualification so hopefully we can go that step further this year,” he said. “Warwickshire have always had a good record in the one-day comps and I have been lucky enough to play in a few finals, but one-day cricket is evolving so fast, it’s almost like an extended version of T20, so we’ve got to keep pace with that.
“I think we are well-placed to do that. We’ve got some exciting young players coming through and they have an opportunity to really make an impression this year and that’s great for the team. They have that youth and exuberance and show no fear and can really take the attack to the opposition. I think that is the way to play white-ball cricket these days – there is no point in being conservative.
“The Royal London One-Day Cup will be really exciting this year. The games come thick and fast and there are a lot of England players around, like Joe at Yorkshire – he’s a world-class player and would be a nice wicket to get! Yorkshire are a strong unit and will have their England players back so it will be a good test for us but it’s always nice to start at home.”