sport news NASSER HUSSAIN: England are wrong to take 'Mr Nice Guy' Chris Woakes for granted

Chris Woakes has 10 first-class centuries, including a Test one against India, and made his debut seven years ago at No 6, so it's not a huge surprise he was the star of England's fantastic run-chase at Old Trafford.

But for a player who has been badly short of batting form to come out and play like he did — against that Pakistan attack in those fourth-day conditions with England in big trouble — was exceptional. Woakes and Jos Buttler got the tempo absolutely spot on and left Azhar Ali with nowhere to go.

Woakes is a very important member of this England team. And what he has done now is put himself at the very top of England's crowded pecking order when it comes to selection for the second Test at the Ageas Bowl on Thursday.

Chris Woakes' batting heroics helped them seal a thrilling win in the first Test against Pakistan

Chris Woakes' batting heroics helped them seal a thrilling win in the first Test against Pakistan

And that's quite something when you consider he is competing for a place with two bowlers who have almost 1,100 wickets between them — Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad — and two of extreme pace and potential, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood.

Woakes's problem is that, because his home and away form are so contrasting, you are almost talking about two different players. At home, he averages 22 with the ball and 35 with the bat. Away, it's 19 with the bat and 50 with the ball.

Perhaps that's why Woakes is sometimes overlooked, because England should be looking to build a side who can win in all conditions home and away. 

Woakes' sixth-wicket stand of 139 with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler proved the turning point

Woakes' sixth-wicket stand of 139 with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler proved the turning point

That's why I was wondering ahead of this Test whether Woakes would have to be the man who stood down at Old Trafford if Ben Stokes had been fully fit to bowl — because you should always be looking to include a bowler of real pace.

And if you have Anderson and Broad in your side, as well as a fit Stokes, and you're trying to find that extreme pace, whether that comes from Archer, Wood or Olly Stone, then Woakes can be an obvious fall-guy.

If you were picking a side just to win every game in England, then Woakes would be one of the first names on your team-sheet because his record in England is better than Broad's and Anderson's. And he's a better batsman than the big two as well.

Chris acknowledges this. He's a very open lad and will come on interviews and admit, 'Yes, I've got to work to get my stats better away from home'.

That's different to someone such as Broad who, as we saw at the start of this Test summer, will stand his ground and does not admit to any kind of failing. That's not a criticism of Stuart, it's just the differing approaches of the two.

Woakes celebrates taking the wicket of Pakistan's Mohammed Rizwan during day two

Woakes celebrates taking the wicket of Pakistan's

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