From uncertainty over selection to topping the wicket charts for England in the World Cup, Archers journey has been a special one. But it has overshadowed another performance - of his new ball partner, Chris Woakes.The England all-rounder has picked 13 wickets in this World Cup so far in 10 matches and is behind Archer and Mark Wood in the wicket tally column. Neither his average of 31.46 nor his economy of 5.38 is exceptional. But as he showed against Australia in the semi-final clash, Woakes strikes when it matters.
He removed the big fish David Warner with a snorter in the first powerplay to peg Australia back soon after Archer had dismissed Aaron Finch. Woakes then established Englands supremacy by getting rid of Peter Handscomb with a peach. His new ball spell read an impressive 6-0-16-2.
Woakes has been making an impact for England without grabbing much attention. Consistent in his channels and subtle with his seam movement off the deck, Woakes has been a clever new ball partner for the more mercurial Archer. He induced quite a few edges in the group stage match against Australia but the openers were lucky to get away then. However, at Edgbaston, he picked two crucial top-order wickets and was also very restrictive to put Australia on the backfoot – a setback from which they could not quite recover.
His only other three-wicket haul in the World Cup came against Pakistan but he was expensive in that game. Interestingly, Woakes has performed significantly better in the first innings of matches – suggesting that he likes to make use of a fresh new wicket. He has picked 10 of his 13 wickets when England have bowled first in the tournament.
This is also consistent with his career numbers in ODIs. He has a better average, economy and strike rate when the team bowls first. 80 career wickets have come when England bowls first with him averaging 27.83 in this innings. When bowling second, Woakes strikes less frequently - 59 wickets in 47 matches at an average of 34.96.
He has played under four skippers so far in his ODI career but has been the most effective under Eoin Morgan. 104 of his 139 ODI wickets have come under Morgan. He averages 29.92 under Morgan and has eight four-wicket hauls and one five-wicket haul under him. He has also played under Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss and also three matches under stand-in skipper Jos Buttler.
His brilliant 3/20 against Australia at Edgbaston – his best performance of the 2019 World Cup - is in line with his performances against Australia in ODIs. Of the teams that he has played against, Woakes has the joint second most wickets against Australia - 24 wickets in 16 ODIs at an average of 32.41.
Woakes has not been in the limelight in comparison to some of the more prestigious names in the England side but with big wickets like those of Rohit Sharma, Steven Smith, David Warner and Kusal Perera, Woakes has quietly but surely done the job for England.