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Chris Woakes was keen to spread the Christmas cheer as he admits that his aim is to start the season with his beloved Bears. 

Woakes didn’t play a single match for county or country during the summer as a knee injury persisted to such an extent that it ultimately required surgery at the end of July.

The operation, which was successful, ensured that Woakes played every game during England’s T20 World Cup triumph in Australia. 

The all-rounder impressed whilst bowling in both powerplays and adding vital lower order runs, meaning he may have been in demand at the upcoming IPL auction. 

The 33-year-old, however, has opted to stay home and ensure all his focus is on Mark Robinson’s side.

“I’m really looking forward to starting the summer with Warwickshire and hopefully playing some cricket,” said Woakes who has played for three different teams in his three IPL seasons. “It’ll be injury dependent, but fingers crossed I’ll be fit this summer. 

“I’m now playing the T20 comp (January) in the UAE with the Sharjah Warriors, which I’m looking forward to, and there are some ODIs at the back end of January for England in South Africa, so it would depend on selection really after that.

“I’m still really keen to be a part of that Test team. Who wouldn’t be? They’re playing fantastic cricket. It looks good fun and there’s a big summer coming up with Ashes cricket and I’d love to be a part of that.

“But firstly It would be great to put the Bear back on and put in a shift for the team. That would be nice.”

England’s summer is based around the Ashes with only three Tests prior to the first at Edgbaston. Ben Stokes’ side head to New Zealand for two Tests in late February, before hosting Ireland at Lord’s in early June. 

That gap in the schedule could therefore allow Woakes to play in the Vitality Blast alongside his red ball ambition.

“It’s a little different as the competition comes slightly sooner,” said Woakes, the Bears third-highest T20 wicket taker. “I’d love to play in Blast Off as I want to play in all formats if possible. 

“Obviously, I missed last summer so I feel I owe a little bit, but I’m also desperate to play some cricket in the English summer.”

Could that mean a Woakes and Ali return? 

The duo have become the bedrock of England over the years, winning two World Cups, the Ashes, and endless series.

But at Edgbaston their paths went separate ways. Battling it out in Birmingham League cricket and the Academy, the pair only played together professional once as Bears – 2006 v West Indies A.

Surely, the two Brummies will be adding to that tally in 2023?

“It’s amazing to see him back at Warwickshire,” said Woakes. “He left here at a young age, but I feel it’s very much a home coming for him. It’ll be great to have him back as part of the Warwickshire staff as he’s a fantastic player and a Birmingham lad at heart. I’m really excited to play with him again.

“I think he’s always had it in the back of his mind that he’d like to come back and I suppose repay the faith which they showed him in the early days. He’s obviously gone away and had a fantastic career at Worcestershire and done some amazing things with England as well. 

“I’m really pleased that he’s chosen to come back and see out the remainder of his career at Warwickshire.”

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