Betting.Betfair

West Indies v England 3rd ODI Betting: Back Woakes to supply the will to win

Chris Woakes has become England's Mr Reliable with bat and ball
Join today View market

Ralph Ellis says the Warwickshire all-rounder is becoming the glue holding England's talented but unpredictable stars together...


"If, as Bill Shankly used to say of a different sport, a good team is made up of those who play the piano and those who carry it, then England have a lot of the right ingredients as they approach this summer’s Champions Trophy."

It always seemed odd to me, in an age when you had Kevin Pietersen's breathtaking belligerence and the all-round dash and daring of Freddie Flintoff, but my dad's favourite cricketer of the last decade was Paul Collingwood.

He admired the way he'd made the best of what he had, wringing out every last ounce of what many felt was fairly limited talent through sheer hard work and dedication. He liked how, whenever the inevitable England batting collapse happened, you could rely on Collingwood as a calm and reassuring presence.

I think if he was around now he'd feel the same about Chris Woakes. If he was in charge of an IPL budget he'd be far more inclined to blow £1.7m on him than on the brilliant but unpredictable Ben Stokes.

It was Woakes, of course, who came to England's rescue on Sunday evening in Antigua when the West Indies looked like levelling up the current ODI series. Alongside Joe Root he shared a century partnership that made a nonsense of the way the so-called talented big hitters above him in the order had flopped.

And it was a reminder that if, as Bill Shankly used to say of a different sport, a good team is made up of those who play the piano and those who carry it, then England have a lot of the right ingredients as they approach this summer's Champions Trophy.

England are now [4.4] favourites to win what is effectively a World Cup in their own backyard and what we've seen in the West Indies suggests the balance of the ODI team is getting just about right.

Woakes will never be superstar material to anybody but my dad, but his presence as a second and genuine all-rounder alongside the brutal hitting and aggressive bowling of Stokes gives captain Eoin Morgan so many options.

Just as important, he has an attitude that spreads through a dressing room, and is one of the reasons it would be fairly safe to back England even at [1.4] to complete a series whitewash by winning Thursday's final ODI. Previous England sides might have been unreliable in a dead rubber at the end of a series, but there seems a far better attitude running through this group.

It's ironic that for so long Stokes kept Woakes out of the team. But when injury gave him his chance he took it and it's become increasingly clear that there is room for the pair of them.

It's the application that makes him so crucial. Throw him the ball and you can rely on a tidy, economical spell with the probability of picking up a couple of wickets. Across all formats in the past 12 months, he is England's outright leading wicket-taker.

Send him to the crease in a crisis and as he proved on Sunday he won't give up any game without a fight. As a batsman in Twenty20 matches he actually has a higher strike rate than the more obviously belligerent Stokes.

Like Collingwood used to be, he's the glue that holds a team full of talent together. Goodness me, I'm starting to sound like my dad!


Join today View market
More England