England pacer Chris Woakes admitted that one session of play on Day 3 of the Headingley Test was primarily responsible for the hosts getting the upper hand in the Ashes encounter.
Woakes explained that the hosts knew Australia had everything to lose, batting for a couple of hours under overcast conditions, and expressed satisfaction that England could grab the big opportunity.
Day 3 of the Headingley Test began after tea on Saturday, July 8. Resuming their second innings on 116/4, Australia were bowled out for 224 as Woakes claimed 3/68, while Stuart Broad picked up 3/45 and Mark Wood 2/66.
Set to chase 251, England stumbled 171/6, but Harry Brook (75), Woakes (32*), and Wood (16* off 8) combined to lift the hosts to a three-wicket win and keep their Ashes hopes alive.
Woakes admitted on Sky Sports:
“They were perfect conditions for us [on Day 3]. There are two things there - it’s a great opportunity to go there and bowl in great conditions, but also there is pressure to put the ball in the right areas and make the most of those conditions. In Ashes cricket, you really have to take those little windows that you get.”
The 34-year-old added:
“We were thinking throughout the day that if we get out there for even half an hour, we can put the Aussies under pressure. It was raining all day and it’s never nice to go out there and bat for a short period of time. To get that opportunity and to do what we did, it was a huge moment in this match.”
Woakes, playing in his first Test since March 2022, shone with three wickets in both innings, making a huge impact with his ability to move the ball.
“Woody came in and played two fantastic shots” - Woakes
While England eventually got over the line at Headingley, there was no shortage of drama on Day 4. Mitchell Starc claimed five wickets to keep Australia’s hopes alive. Brook thwarted the visitors with a defiant knock but was dismissed by Starc with the score reading 230.
Wood, however, came in and hauled England towards the target.
Reliving the tense final moments, Woakes said:
“When you get so close, you feel like you are almost over the line and then we felt miles away from it again. Woody came in and played two fantastic shots. His nerves were going. He played beautifully, left a few and the couple that he got, just perfect. Amazing feeling.”
Wood came in and struck a six and a four. Woakes then hit the winning runs by smashing Starc through point for four.