England bowler Chris Woakes in action during day two of the 2 Day Practice match between England and South Africa Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park on December 18, 2019 in Benoni, South Africa. Picture: STU FORSTER / GETTY IMAGES
England bowler Chris Woakes in action during day two of the 2 Day Practice match between England and South Africa Invitation XI at Willowmoore Park on December 18, 2019 in Benoni, South Africa. Picture: STU FORSTER / GETTY IMAGES

England all-rounder Chris Woakes has experience of beating SA in a Test match on these shores‚ but he isn’t in a position to get ahead of himself.

Speaking after the two-day game against a Cricket SA XI at Willowmoore Park in Benoni‚ Woakes said England will have to be at the top of their game to collect another series win against SA.

The 30-year-old Woakes played in two Tests of the 2015-16 series that England won 2-1 to regain the Basil D’Oliviera Trophy that England are still in possession of. In the two-day game‚ England bowled the CSA XI out for 289 in 68 overs after having scored 309/4 on day one.

“SA are always going to be competitive in their own conditions and we’re not taking them lightly at all‚” Woakes said.

“We came here four years ago and played some really good cricket and won. I know we have to be at the top of our game for us to do that again.

“I don’t think there’s ever a good time to play any team at home. They’re always going to be competitive in their own conditions.

“They’ve changed things up a bit with Graeme Smith coming in. He’s been a leader for a long time and Mark Boucher was a competitive world-class cricketer. They’ve got a lot of experience in their back-room staff.”

Woakes was part of an attack that was missing Jofra Archer‚ Stuart Broad and Jack Leach with illness while Ben Stokes didn’t bowl.

Woakes (3/48)‚ Sam Curran (2/45) and James Anderson (1/37) all bowled 11 overs while leg-spinner Matt Parkinson’s 20 overs went for 2/112. Woakes said he was happy to avoid illness‚ but understands the need to devise different ways of taking wickets on unresponsive pitches.

“Touch wood, I am OK‚ but a few guys have gone down ill. They’ve been back in the hotel trying to steer clear of everyone. They’ll be back on their feet‚” he said.

“It was nice to take a few wickets and it was a different role compared to what I’m used to doing. I bowled a few bouncers because the wicket wasn’t responding when bowling on a length.

“We had to change up a bit and find different ways to get wickets, and the afternoon session was good for us. We’re always looking at ways to develop skills with the Kookaburra ball and try to find ways to get it moving.

“I think in SA we may be able to utilise reverse swing in the longer games, but I think I’m a different bowler now. Sometimes in different conditions you have to think out the box because sometimes the way you pick up wickets in England isn’t the way you pick up wickets abroad.”

The CSA XI youngsters did take some of the opportunities that came their way. Kabelo Sekhukhune (65) and Jacques Snyman (79) came together at 18/2 and went on to share a 133-run third-wicket stand that drew the pre-lunch sting from England’s attack. They fell successively after lunch to Anderson and Woakes‚ but captain Diego Rosier held firm with an 88-ball 70.

England bowled accurately and wrapped up the game 20 minutes after tea.

England’s next fixture will be against SA A at the same ground from Friday to Sunday.