Chris Woakes has seen enough from his front row seat to be confident that England’s Twenty20 side are on track to repeat the World Cup success of the 50-over team.
Woakes was a key part of last year’s unforgettable triumph on home soil but has not played in the shorter format in five years, partly as a result of workload management.
With no sign of that selection policy changing, the Warwickshire all-rounder expects to be cheering on from home when his team-mates try to complete a unique double in India next year.
For the past two weeks in South Africa all of England’s white-ball players have been training, playing and honing their skills together, with Eoin Morgan’s T20 side taking the series 2-0 going into Tuesday’s final match.
Woakes has been watching on ahead of picking up the baton for the ODI leg of the tour and sees a team on a familiar journey.
“They seem to be in a very similar position to our team heading into the 2019 World Cup,” he said.
“Leading up to the World Cup we had a very good four-year period – there were losses along the way but we felt it was a learning curve and we were trying to peak. This T20 side looks to be the same.
“We are winning big series but I still feel there’s a lot more to come. Eoin touched on it after the first game; we won but he felt we had another level to go to and wasn’t overly impressed with the performance, which shows how good that team can be.
“In these white-ball sides we expect high standards across the board and Eoin drives that. This team feels in a really good place and is still on the upward journey, which is a really good place to be. They win from any position.”
England could choose to make changes having secured the series, with paceman Mark Wood and spin bowling all-rounder Moeen Ali both coming close to selection in the previous two games. Tom Curran, the tourists’ most expensive bowler in both previous outings, could find himself ousted by either.
Left-arm seamer Reece Topley is also hoping for a first outing since the last edition of the T20 World Cup in 2016 and Sam Billings is waiting in the wings as reserve batsman.
Jason Roy is the most vulnerable in a stacked top order following scores of nought and 14 but England may well prefer to let him hit his way back into form ahead of the one-dayers rather than shuffle the deck.
Woakes is past the point of coveting a place, having come to terms some time ago as a two-format player for his country.
“Unless there was quite a few injuries I couldn’t imagine being in the mix again,” he said.
“I’ve all but given up hope but it sits fine with me if it means I can prolong my time playing Tests and ODIs.”
South Africa are still without Andile Phehlukwayo and David Miller, though both are expected to be available for the next series.
That means Quinton de Kock will go in with the core of a side that has been outplayed thus far, with the captain explaining: “It’s been disappointing to lose but I don’t think we’ll change much.
“We want to give our other guys opportunities but I think we do need a win for our own sake.
“We’re going to play the best team we have and still try to win.”