Alex Hales backed as perfect partner for Alistair Cook
Chris Woakes may have experienced firsthand the frustration shown by Alex Hales on missing out on his maiden Test century at Lord's last weekend.
But the bowler is in no doubt that the Nottinghamshire batsman has solidified his claims to open the batting for England alongside skipper Alastair Cook.
On Sunday Hales came close to topping off an impressive series against Sri Lanka with a hundred at the home of cricket but there was to be no engraving of his name on the Lord’s honours board after he was out for 94.
However it was still a strong turnaround for the 27-year-old who responded to a tough winter series in South Africa, where he scored 136 runs at an average of 17, by totalling 292 runs with a much higher average of 58.4.
The next challenge in Test cricket comes against Pakistan next month and Woakes believes falling short of a ton will only drive his England teammate on.
“He was obviously disappointed last week, but he’s the type of character that will move on from that and take the positives from it,” he said.
“He would have loved to have got that elusive hundred and get his name on the honours board, as you don’t get that chance too often, so it’s a shame that he’s done it.
“He definitely chucked his helmet and his bat about a bit and had a little scream to himself after, but nothing out of the ordinary. It’s hard to explain the emotion you go through.
“But he had a great series. South Africa probably didn’t go as well as he’d have liked where he got a few starts but didn’t kick on, so to have a really strong series with the bat is only good for him.
“He’ll take the good things away from the other day and make sure next time he’s in that position he won’t get out. That’s cricket unfortunately – sometimes you get a good ball and you’re back in the hutch.
“But 100 per cent he’s shown he can be the man to open for England. The way he has adapted in tough conditions when the ball has been swinging around was impressive, and as an opener you definitely have to be able to leave the ball well which is something he has improved on.”
Before a ball is bowled against Pakistan at Lord’s on July 14, Woakes and Hales will be concentrating on the shorter form of the game with both named in the 14-man squad for the upcoming Royal London ODI series against Sri Lanka which gets underway next Tuesday at Trent Bridge.
And while the squad personal is changed slightly from the red ball team, Woakes is keen for England to keep their visitors on the back foot, having sealed a 2-0 series win last weekend.
“The white ball guys are coming in and while it is largely a very different squad, a series win like we had definitely gives us the momentum heading into this one,” added Woakes.
“Hopefully that has dented the Sri Lankans confidence a bit and gives us a little bit of an advantage, but it is a completely different series – and almost a different sport in some ways.
“They will be looking for some sort of revenge having not gone so well in the Test series so I’m sure it’s going to be a tough one.
“They’ll feel like they have a lot to prove as they are a good side and they have showed their one-day game is very strong over a long period of time.
“They’ll be a threat for sure, even in English conditions, and we’ll have to be at our best to get the result.
“The guys in India went fantastically well, and played fearless cricket with a smile on their faces which was great to watch – so hopefully that can rub off on this side and we can produce some big scores again.”
Chris Woakes was speaking at a Sri Lankan inspired cooking event hosted by Royal London, proud sponsors of One-Day cricket.