England’s fast-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes admitted that skipping IPL 2023 Player Auction, to be held on Friday in Kochi, wasn’t an easy decision to make.
He added that the desire to be in the contention for England’s Test squad for 2023 Ashes at home after missing 2022 home matches due to knee injury means he will be giving the IPL a miss and will be turning out for Warwickshire in the County Championship.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, by any means. There’s still a part of me that wishes I could go because the IPL is a great tournament and financially it could be very rewarding — but I didn’t want to make the decision solely on finance. It’s a tricky scenario: having just won a World Cup, potentially stock could be high. There are obviously some other players who are likely to go big but I could have been next on the list behind them,” Woakes was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
Woakes had been a part of IPL thrice – playing for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2017, Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2018 and Delhi Capitals in 2021, despite not playing for them in 2020. Overall, he has picked 30 wickets in 21 IPL appearances while making 78 runs with the bat.
With the demand for fast-bowling all-rounders very high during IPL auctions, Woakes could have been on the radar of many teams alongside his T20 World Cup winning England team-mates Ben Stokes and Sam Curran. But the prospect of playing in the 2023 Ashes triumphed over all IPL-related scenarios.
“I had conversations with a lot of people and some with franchises as well, who sounded keen, which made it harder to pull out. But having not played any cricket in the English summer last year, it’s a good opportunity for me to set myself up for, hopefully, a really strong summer with England.”
“It’s an Ashes year and I haven’t played much red-ball cricket. I need to suggest to people and remind people that I can play red-ball cricket and get through it – both from a fitness point of view, but also to show what I can do to try and have a go at being part of the Ashes,” he added.
Though Woakes won’t be seen in IPL 2023, he will be seen in action during the inaugural ILT20 in the UAE, where he has a contract with Sharjah Warriors. But he is hopeful that giving up on a lucrative IPL contract will pave the way for a spot in the Ashes through great performances for Warwickshire in the County season.
“The IPL is hard to turn down because the best players go there, it’s financially rewarding and it’s been brilliant for my career. But the trade-off is that opportunity to play for Warwickshire, which I’ve always loved doing. It’s tricky as an international player, particularly with the current schedule, and more so as a bowler: you don’t get the opportunity to come back and play much for your county.”
“I don’t blame members and fans for giving myself and many other players a bit of stick for not playing for their counties enough, but the schedule means it is just so hard to do now. I love playing for Warwickshire and I’d love to play more, it’s just almost impossible. It’ll be a good time to put the Bear back on and hopefully put in some early performances and get myself in the reckoning for the Ashes.”