Chris Woakes admitted he doubted whether he would play Test cricket again for England during his recent injury troubles.
The Warwickshire fast bowler missed more than a year of first-class cricket after undergoing knee surgery and has not played an England Test since facing the West Indies in March 2022.
The 34-year-old said he hopes that inclusion in Brendon McCullum’s squad for the match against Ireland at Lord’s, which begins on Thursday, could be a route towards an Ashes spot next month.
Chris Woakes has joined up with the England squad ahead of next week's Test. 🏴
Go well, Wizard. 🧙♂️
— Bears 🏏 (@WarwickshireCCC) May 28, 2023
“Last summer was quite a tough summer for me personally, missing out on not just England cricket but all cricket. I didn’t play a single game, so it was quite hard to take,” Woakes said.
“I had a good winter, I’ve started the summer nicely with Warwickshire and it’s always nice to be back in England colours and be part of this set-up again. I’m delighted to be back.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been (three years) but it’s really exciting to be back. Whenever you get the call it’s always exciting and you feel proud and honoured to represent your country again.
“When Brendan did call me it felt, not like the first call-up, but it always means a lot and it’s great to be back amongst it.
“Those sort of doubts (about playing again for England) do run through your mind a little bit. That’s part and parcel of professional sport, whether it be form, injury or whatever it is, there’s always someone knocking on the door, younger players ready to come in.”
England won six out of seven Tests last summer under McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, and have won 10 of their last 12 following the winter’s 3-0 victory against Pakistan and draw against New Zealand.
Woakes said that despite the spirited run of form he was hopeful that a good performance against Ireland could open the door to a place in the Ashes side.
“Yes of course,” he said. “Whenever you get an opportunity put the shirt on it’s an opportunity to impress, contribute to team wins, and with a huge summer ahead you want to try and be a part of that.
“It’s an opportunity if I get the nod on Thursday, then I’ll obviously be doing my best to contribute to the team winning and putting in a personal performance.
“I haven’t (had an indication of the role this summer) as of yet. You look across the board and we’ve got a very, very good pool of fast bowlers. There has been a couple of niggles around, obviously, and with a big summer ahead you would imagine we’re going to need that big pool of fast bowlers at some point.
“I haven’t been told exactly if I’m playing or when I’m playing, but if required I’ll be ready to try and put my hand in the mix to get the nod.”