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High-yield Bond guides in-form Woakes

Former Kiwi quick teaching England pacemen how to make Kookaburra swing in the Ashes

One major concern over England's bowling before this Ashes tour started was whether Chris Woakes could prove a threat in Australian conditions.

Woakes, 28, is a fine bowler in England, where the extra movement on offer thanks to both the Dukes ball and pitches makes him extremely difficult to face. He has, though, often been found wanting in conditions where swing and seam are harder to come by.


However, his two most recent performances, in Adelaide last week and on day one of this final Ashes warm-up match here in Townsville, have proved that the Warwickshire seamer is shaping up nicely ahead of next week’s first Magellan Ashes Test at the Gabba.

Woakes blew away the Cricket Australia XI with a devastating spell on the third evening of that day-night match in Adelaide last Friday, taking 4-12 with the pink ball under lights.

Woakes bags six for England in tour game

He backed that up with 4-8 in 22 balls on his way to 6-54 with the red Kookaburra on the first day here at the Riverway Stadium on Wednesday.

It’s a far cry from his opening performance on this tour, when he looked ineffective and unthreatening against a Western Australia XI on a flat WACA track.

England desperately need someone to keep up the pressure that is expected to be applied by their new-ball of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have 894 Test wickets between them.

It’s a role Woakes plays at home and he is looking good to continue that during the Ashes.

"I’m pleased to pick up six wickets and a week away from the first Test it’s good to hit some form," said Woakes.

Woakes rips through CA XI under lights

"I was better last week in Adelaide than I was the previous week in Perth and here it came out nicely and I felt in decent rhythm.

"All the numbers are saying I’m getting a close to getting cooked. I’m pleased with where my body is at, and getting overs in the legs is important. You don’t want to go in undercooked and I’m pleased with where I’m at."

Shane Bond, the former New Zealand quick who took 35 international wickets on Australian soil and is now England’s temporary bowling coach for the first part of this tour, has been helping Woakes and company with their plans for Australia’s batsmen in unfamiliar southern hemisphere conditions.

Bond had a strong record against the mighty Australians in the early 2000s // Getty
Bond had a strong record against the mighty Australians in the early 2000s // Getty

And his advice on how to get the Kookaburra ball moving appear to be bearing fruit, with Woakes in particular getting it to swing.

"There’s a lot spoken about the Kookaburra ball not doing as much as the Dukes, and generally it doesn’t," said Woakes.

"The fact that we got a bit of movement today is pleasing, and builds some confidence with this ball that we are not as used to."

With Ben Stokes absent so far on this tour, grounded while police continue to investigate his late-night altercation in Bristol in September, Woakes will have even more responsibility on his shoulders during the Ashes.

Day one highlights: Cricket Australia XI v England

Woakes might not be regarded as a genuine allrounder at the highest level, but a man with three Test half-centuries and nine first-class hundreds to his name is probably quite close.

He is not overawed by the thought that he will have help fill the Stokes-shaped void in England’s team.

"I’m an all-rounder in this team, which means I’m under pressure to score runs and take wickets," said Woakes.

"All of us have got to step up. My plan is to do that, and I’ll be trying my best. I feel like I’m getting some form under my belt going into the Test series."

If Woakes can continue where he has left off in these tour games, England will believe they have another weapon that can exploit what they feel is a fragile Australian batting order.

Cricket Network will live stream England's tour match in Townsville on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app

Click above to learn more about Townsville or watch the great video below!

A tour of Townsville with Andrew Symonds

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 INTL Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21