A joy to behold
Everything is so clearly synchronized in his bowling. Smooth run-up; smooth exit; seam position — slanting towards first slip for his spare ball — an outswinger; not quite a nip-backer, but more of an angled delivery; a ball with the seam knocked down, and the intelligence to use the angles in the crease so cleverly. And not many have such a remarkable ability to bat on these pitches in England.
In the early years of his career, Woakes had no command of the nip-back to the right-hand side until his mentor Steve Perryman, a former Warwickshire bowler, gave him a yo-yo exercise. Like swing bowling, he’d run his fingers down on a toy he’d been walking around with for days, and it helped Woakes master the wrist position. That toy can be used symbolically to describe his international career — it went up and down, but the string was just nice to look at.
That angled delivery got Warner into a free drive. He had been working on the Australian opener for a while before that. Starting with lengths, pushing them across, consistently punching them on the inside edge and suddenly he slides a curler inside the mid-on and leg-side line to test Warner’s balance. There was a brief respite as the sunlight reflected off the rails in the stands directly into the eyes of the batsmen. But when play resumed, it was the skill of Woakes that stayed in Warner’s mind. It was a perfect length for Woakes, notAt that stroke, Marsh, who could still have gotten away with a hit had it not been for J.J. Woakes, was not out of the batwho put up these stats was wise enough to add: Well, against that pace any batsman would have trouble, I think. Still, it’s Smith, and you can expect this statistic to keep popping up in conversations in English pubs.
And as always, Stuart Broad did what Stuart Broad does. Turned on the crowd, played well against Australia (beat Ian Botham to become the bowler with the most scalps against an old foe), took his 600th Test wicket, incidentally off the end of James Anderson. The 599th innings was his best in an unspectacular match.