Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes is itching to get back into action on the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka having enjoyed his first extended break from cricket in almost two years.
Woakes was forced to return home from England’s one-day series in India in October because of a thigh strain and he also sat out the Lions’ recent series in Bangladesh.
But Woakes has been recalled for the series against Sri Lanka A and he has already flown to the island along with with Craig Kieswetter, Samit Patel and Jade Dernbach to acclimatise.
“The rest I’ve had was much-needed because I’ve had no prolonged period of rest for about two years,” Woakes said.
“I’ve had complete shutdown since I came back from India. I had a couple of weeks away in Mexico with my girlfriend, I had quiet but relaxing time over Christmas and I’ve also had the chance to watch Aston Villa more than I have for a few years.
“I’ve been lucky with injuries up to now apart from the sore shins I had last summer and I think that the thigh was just a matter of time when it happened.
“But I’m fit now. I started training again before Christmas and I’ve stepped that up since the New Year. I’m looking forward to getting back into things and playing outdoors again.”
The inclusion of Woakes, Patel, Kieswetter and Dernbach in the Lions squad has been interpreted as an indication that they will all be named in England’s one-day squad for next month’s series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
“Nothing has been said to us,” Woakes said. “I’m not sure when the one-day squad will be picked but as far as I’m concerned they have picked me for the Lions tour because I haven’t played outdoors for a while now.
“Obviously the aim is to try to put in a few performances for the Lions in the early stages of the tour and hopefully get into the one-day squad.”
Woakes’s trip to Sri Lanka has also given him the chance to catch up with his county team-mate Varun Chopra who is on the island with the Potential England Performance Programme squad.
The England players have been allocated to clubs who compete in Sri Lanka’s domestic first-class competition and Chopra made his mark on debut for Tamil Union by scoring 233 not out, his third double century in nine months, in their draw against Sinhalese Sports Club.
Worcestershire’s Moeen Ali has been attached to the Moors club during the PEPP squad’s stay in Sri Lanka.