Chris Woakes was not beating himself up about the last over which got away in Hamilton, realising that the margin between hero and villain can be the matter of a few inches.
Double-figures is what Woakes ideally likes to have up his sleeve when he begins a final over, but backed himself with nine in the first ODI – Mark Wood defended seven against South Africa at the Ageas Bowl last year – but what he termed the “crucial” first couple of deliveries went New Zealand’s way to make the result all-but assured.
He would not, however, have done anything differently with the first delivery, a yorker at leg stump, which was deflected to fine leg to make it five needed off five. A wide followed, then the final blow from Mitchell Santner over midwicket when Woakes erred in length.
“There have been times when you come through it and you bowl that last over and you’re the hero,” Woakes said. “There are other times when it goes against you. Unfortunately, it did.”
Woakes, who claimed his 100th wicket when he removed Colin Munro, is becoming a go-to man at the death for Eoin Morgan, which is why it was a surprise that he was not given the chance to bowl is full allocation. In hindsight he should have replaced Adil Rashid the over after Ross Taylor departed, instead Santner clubbed Rashid for two sixes.
“You try to put yourself in that mindset where it has gone well before and try and visualise it,” he said. “But we aren’t machines and sometimes you are going to slightly get it wrong. You do need a little bit of luck in those last overs. Had that first ball [of the last over] been dug out for a single or a dot, it completely changes the outlook on the rest of the over. It’s just the way it goes.”
Jos Buttler previously spoke about bowlers trying to stay one step ahead of batsmen, in reference to Tim Southee’s use of pace-off against him, and as part of Woakes’ development he is working on his range of slower deliveries and how to disguise them from the batsmen. He cited Southee as an example of a bowler who will double-bluff – hide the ball as if to bowl a slower delivery then send down at full pace – and said that he had picked up a lot of skills from the IPL, working with Lakshmipathy Balaji at Kolkata Knight Riders.
“I’ve tried to hide it a little bit for a while,” Woakes said. “It’s something I learned from the IPL, they hid it and from facing guys I always felt the more they hide it the harder it is to see those slower balls or changes of pace. That’s something I’ve slowly worked on over time. I still have a lot to learn but I feel like I have got better.
“[Balaji] was very good at hiding the ball and he bowled in the nets off a few paces and you literally couldn’t pick him. Sometimes you’ll hide it and bowl a quicker one and sometimes a slower ball. It’s all mind games.”
Woakes’ next IPL stint will take him to Royal Challengers Bangalore, along with team-mate Moeen Ali, after he was bought for more than GDP800,000. He’ll be in a side that includes Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Brendon McCullum
“It will be interesting to see how Kohli goes about his business,” Woakes said. “He’s a world-class player, one of the best if not the best in the white-ball game so that will be exciting to see how he goes about it. Obviously, you get a perception of a guy playing against them so to be in the same dressing-room as him, de Villiers – all these guys – it will be great to learn from them.”
The learning never stops and if some of Kohli and de Villiers’ batting knowledge can rub off on Woakes, England probably won’t mind.