Woakes was among those consulted by captain Eoin Morgan before the fall of Hales on the eve of last year’s World Cup victory after it appeared that the opener had served a ban 21 days for a second recreational drug offense.
But while Morgan has said that confidence has yet to be restored and that “11 months are in fact not that far off”, the sudden need for a pool of up to 45 players to cover England’s rescheduled test and the limited summer could push us to rethink.
At 31, this may or may not be the case for Hales, at least while Morgan remains captain. If the view of the respected leader softens in light of the extraordinary circumstances, then Woakes expects the rest of the configuration to be consistent.
Woakes said, “I’m sure people are wasting their time, so to speak. He went through a difficult period by being excluded from the World Cup; continuing to see this team lift the trophy must have been difficult for him. I think if people have been away for a while and worked on their weaknesses, they should have a second chance. Alex is a world class player. In a way, I felt sorry for him, but I understand the decision of the management, the captain and the rest of the team.
“I don’t know 100% what’s going to happen, but I would be happy to see Alex back in the colors of England. I imagine that the majority would have the kind of opinions that I expressed. I don’t know why someone would see it differently. We have a culture and an environment in the England team that we are all trying to pull in the right direction. If Alex is willing to do it, I imagine everyone would be happy to see him again. “
The white ball team’s goal of a second world title will likely be delayed by the expected postponement of the T20 World Cup in Australia in October (the time slot that should be taken by an Indian Premier League postponed). This means that the test team will have priority for selection this summer – if this was not already the case – and above all because the movement between formats will probably be limited by the biosecurity measures in place.
Although he is the leader in the one-day international attack, Woakes is one of the red ball players who have resumed individual training in the past two days with an hour-long session at Edgbaston which included five “50%” bowling games and fitness work, supervised remotely by Warwickshire physio Gerhard Mostert. Her day started with a temperature control at home, the results of which are entered in an application, before arriving on the ground in a complete kit, regularly using the handwashing stations and training with a lot of balls that only he is allowed to touch.
A temporary ban on using saliva to make the ball shine should be confirmed by the International Cricket Council and the 31-year-old therefore expects players will have to work harder to swing during the six tests against the West Indies and Pakistan.
Woakes, who was forced to train with an Alice group because of 12 weeks without a haircut, said, “From a bowling player’s perspective, we just need to find a way to make him shine more hard and longer to find a way to get some shine on the ball. Fortunately, it’s a Dukes balloon and not a Kookaburra this summer, because then we’d be hard pressed. I’m sure we will find a way to get some shine and make sure it comes off the straight line.
“Sites and counties have tried to make this [return to training] as safe as possible and in my eyes they did a very good job. ”