The opening day of the crucial fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford, Manchester proved to be a career-defining moment for England’s seasoned bowler, Chris Woakes. Showcasing his spectacular command of seam and swing, Woakes bowled a match-turning spell and emerged as the kingpin of England’s bowling attack.

Australia, who were invited to bat first, were confronted by the ruthless precision of Woakes’ seam bowling. England’s hope of getting the upper hand on the first day was pinned to Woakes, who delivered spectacularly, bagging four wickets for a frugal 52 runs from his 19 overs. He shattered Australia’s middle-order batting line-up by removing Cameron Green and Mitchell Marsh within a five-ball span.

Woakes’ commendable performance did not stop there. In a demonstration of his excellent form, he took the second new ball ahead of veteran bowler, Stuart Broad. Within four balls, he managed to get Alex Carey caught behind. The wicket of Carey came as a crucial breakthrough as the wicketkeeper-batsman and Mitchell Starc were mounting a stubborn resistance, steering Australia towards a fighting total.

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However, despite his top-tier performance, Woakes often had to settle for the role of a support actor. This was largely due to Broad, who accomplished the momentous feat of taking his 600th Test wicket. Nevertheless, Woakes’ contributions were instrumental in swinging the momentum of the day in England’s favour.

Despite being overshadowed by Broad’s achievement, Woakes was undeniably England’s best bowler of the day. He bowled with commendable zip, hit the seam accurately, and consistently made the ball wobble to pose a stern test for Australia’s batsmen.

Often underrated and understated, Woakes’ prowess with the Dukes ball in home conditions is a testament to his world-class capabilities. As the Test continues, England will be hoping for Woakes to continue his splendid form and help the team gain a strong foothold in the Test match, keeping alive their hopes of winning the Ashes series.