Chris Woakes reports reassuring relations between ECB, PCA and England players

17 May 2017 06:09

Chris Woakes sees little reason to fear English cricket may encounter a breakdown in contract negotiations like that afflicting Australia and casting a cloud over next winter's Ashes.

There is no prospect, according to the England all-rounder, that any similar strife may be in store in this country.

Woakes reports reassuring relations between the England and Wales Cricket Board and Professional Cricketers' Association, and consensus among players that all is well.

That appears to be far from the case Down Under, where Test vice-captain David Warner caused a stir this week when he upped the stakes in the stand-off between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association by hinting he and his team-mates may consider withdrawing their services before the 2017/18 home series against England, and perhaps seek alternative employment.

Woakes' England team-mate Gareth Batty - the pair played together in the Mohali Test six months ago - has joined the debate too, suggesting a "breaking point" may be in the offing as players begin to realise the extra revenue set to be generated by the ECB's new city-based Twenty20 tournament.

There are no such pressing concerns for Woakes, however.

Asked about the possibility of repercussions of Australian disquiet for English players, he said: "It's not on our radar - we are paid very well and looked after by the ECB and the PCA.

"What lies ahead lies ahead, and we'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

Woakes was barely home from a successful maiden Indian Premier League campaign with Kolkata Knight Riders before boarding another plane on Tuesday to join up with his international colleagues on England's pre-Champions Trophy training camp in Spain.

Speaking from there, he confirmed England are keeping an eye on events in Australia but focusing primarily on preparation for their challenge next month for a first 50-over global trophy in this country's history.

"It sounds like the players are standing firm for what they believe in," Woakes said of Warner and Co.

"If it gets to the stage where the Ashes are under threat, of course it would be a shame for it to not go ahead.

"It's the pinnacle . but we are concentrating on what comes next."

Warner also mused publicly over whether the advent of lucrative and high-profile Twenty20 leagues around the world may mean the best players are no longer beholden to their home boards and international competition.

Woakes was among eight England-qualified cricketers who joined the IPL this year with the ECB's blessing.

He insists he has derived great benefit over the past month, while he might otherwise have been in action for Warwickshire and in two one-day internationals against Ireland, but he still puts playing for England at the top of his list.

He said: "You want to do both . (but) the be-all and end-all is playing for your country.

"I would never turn my back on a tour unless the decision is taken above me.

"(ECB director Andrew) Strauss and (coach) Trevor (Bayliss) were keen for us to go and miss those games. If it came down to them wanting us to stay, you would stay.

"It's a Catch 22, but I'm sure a balance will be struck - and 99 per cent of the time international cricket will take precedence."

As for his IPL experience, Woakes believes it will prove meaningful both in the long term and for the impending ODI series against South Africa and the Champions Trophy.

"Conditions will be different, but the skills are not far off the same," he added.

"To bowl under pressure against big players can only stand me in good stead. That's what I will take into the ODIs, bowling to guys like (MS) Dhoni and (Glenn) Maxwell, you know you've been there before . and done it in the IPL under pressure, (so) you can transfer that over."

There was a culture shock waiting in Kolkata, where the level of support took him aback.

He said: "When you first get there you have quite few commitments with sponsors, and then a week later you find yourself on billboards.

"The city goes crazy for the team - it's pretty cool. The city turns purple and gold (in KKR colours)."

On the pitch too, Woakes had to adapt quickly, but is thankful now that he took up the opportunity.

"You see it on TV and think you know what it's like - but until you are in that pressure cooker, you don't," he added.

"If I'd turned down the IPL I would have had regrets and missed an opportunity that has benefitted me.

"To be away from home in a different country was a bit surreal, especially that time of year. But the experience was 100 per cent worth it . I'd 100 per cent recommend it."

Source: PA