Warwickshire’s bowling coach Graeme Welch has backed the county’s seamer Chris Woakes to make the step up to international level.
Woakes has been included in an England senior squad for the first time following his selection for the one-day and Twenty20 internationals against Australia in the New Year.
The 21-year-old from north Birmingham is the only uncapped player in the squad but Welch believes that he has the skill and temperament to make the step up.
“It’s great for Chris and great for Warwickshire that he has got this call,” Welch said. “To have him in the squad alongside Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott says a lot about the health of Warwickshire cricket at the moment.
“I think Chris will cope with the step up. He’s a confident lad and he will take this in his stride. We worked hard on his one-day disciplines last season and he showed a good temperament in taking the new ball in a lot of our one-day cricket.
“When you do that you sometimes get smashed and you sometimes get wickets. I didn’t seem to faze Chris at all. He’s been away on a couple of ECB fast bowling camps and has come back from those fitter and stronger.
“He’s a bigger unit than you think but that has probably helped him bowl a little bit quicker this year. His one-day skills are good. We found that the white ball didn’t swing much this year so we worked on getting Chris wider at the crease and angling the ball back into the batsmen and not giving them any width.
“He’s probably been picked for his bowling but Chris also got some very useful runs for us down the order this year, particularly in the Twenty20 Cup where he came in, got 20-odd off ten balls and helped to win several games.”
Welch first worked with Woakes on an ECB fast bowling camp in India two winters ago, where he was instantly impressed by the skills and attitude of the Warwickshire youngster.
A member of the Warwickshire side that won six trophies in three seasons in the mid-1990s, Welch returned to Edgbaston as bowling coach ten months ago and enjoys working with Woakes.
“Chris is a coach’s dream,” Welch said. “He will try anything you suggest, he soaks up anything you say and he’s always willing to learn. But he’s also smart enough to work out for himself what works and what doesn’t.
“He’s clearly impressed the coaches he’s worked with on his way up from the Under-19s to where he is now and he deserves this chance.”