LONDON [UK]: England all-rounder Chris Woakes said that it wasn't an easy call to miss the Indian Premier League (IPL) next year but doing so would give him the best chance of being selected for the home 2023 Ashes team. In his three IPL seasons, Woakes has played for three different teams: Delhi Capitals in 2021, Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2018, and Kolkata Knight Riders in 2017.
On December 23, he would have most likely found a suitor. The desire for seam-bowling allrounders is always high at mini-auctions, even though he may not have ignited the large bidding war anticipated for his England teammates Ben Stokes and Sam Curran.
"It wasn't an easy decision, by any means. There's still a part of me that wishes I could go because the IPL is a great tournament and financially it could be very rewarding - but I didn't want to make the decision solely on finance. It's a tricky scenario: having just won a World Cup, potentially stock could be high. There are obviously some other players who are likely to go big but I could have been next on the list behind them," Woakes told ESPNcricinfo.
But Woakes explained that he will instead spend April and May trying to force his way into Ashes contention through performances for Warwickshire in the County Championship after missing the entirety of the 2022 summer due to injury and observing the transformation of England's Test team from a distance under Stokes and Brendon McCullum. "I had conversations with a lot of people and some with franchises as well, who sounded keen, which made it harder to pull out.
But having not played any cricket in the English summer last year, it's a good opportunity for me to set myself up for, hopefully, a really strong summer with England. It's an Ashes year and I haven't played much red-ball cricket. I need to suggest to people and remind people that I can play red-ball cricket and get through it - both from a fitness point of view, but also to show what I can do to try and have a go at being part of the Ashes," he added.
Woakes spoke to England's managing director Rob Key during the T20I tour to Pakistan in September, who reassured him that he was still seen as an all-format player. "He was very clear that I was still a part of the Test plans. but obviously, I needed to get myself fit, and get my knee right," Woakes recalled.