Chris Woakes returns to England’s T20 squad after five-year absence


Chris Woakes has been called up to England’s Twenty20 squad, five and a half years after he last won a cap in the shortest format. The 32-year-old is part of the 16-man squad for the three-match series against Sri Lanka and if selected it would end a curious 10-month absence from international cricket; usually a mainstay of the Test and ODI setups, he has been an unfortunate victim of the pandemic’s logistical challenges.

The all-rounder benefits from the absences of Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer after their respective finger and elbow operations and could challenge Tom Curran in England’s World Cup plans. David Willey also comes in as a left-arm seam option with Reece Topley recovering from a side strain.

Liam Dawson has been preferred to Matt Parkinson as the third spinner alongside Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. Lancashire’s leg-spinner should not lose heart, however, with Chris Silverwood, who now selects the squad, mindful of fringe players carrying drinks when they could be playing in the T20 Blast.

Woakes, who won the last of his eight T20i caps against Pakistan in late 2015, will make his first appearance of the season for Birmingham Bears in their Blast fixture at Derbyshire on Sunday. As with Moeen, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Sam Curran – all part of the squad – England gave him a break from biosecure environments after returning from the IPL.

England’s white-ball campaign sits in between the current Tests against New Zealand and the visit of India for a five-match series starting on 4 August. Sri Lanka have arrived for three T20s and three ODIs, starting at Cardiff on 23 June, with Pakistan following for two three-match series in both formats.