Ashes rivalry will stay on-field: Woakes

Murray WenzelAAP
Ben Stokes took 2-31 in England's practice match against England Lions at Ian Healy Oval.
Camera IconBen Stokes took 2-31 in England's practice match against England Lions at Ian Healy Oval. Credit: AAP

Chris Woakes believes the racism and sexting scandals that have impacted the English and Australian camps ahead of next Wednesday's Ashes opener are personal matters that should not be used as on-field ammunition this summer.

England arrived in Australia as Azeem Rafiq detailed allegations of institutional racism he experienced at English captain Joe Root's Yorkshire club.

Tim Paine then stood down as Australian captain before taking a leave of absence altogether after a sexting scandal surfaced.

Fast-bowling allrounder Woakes, who is fighting for a spot in the side to play at the Gabba next week, said the Ashes rivalry naturally raised the stakes.

But he said to use either issue as on-field fodder would be out of line.

"I think what's happened in both camps, a lot of the issues are personal and cricket is played best when that sort of stuff is left to the side and we let the skills do the talking," he told journalists on Thursday.

"Whatever goes on on the field, goes on on the field, and the Ashes raises that rivalry.

"But in my experience, playing in three Ashes series, it's not overstepped the line once when I've been around.

"I'm sure the cricket will be hard fought, as it always is, and will be good to watch."

The squad enjoyed some unexpected time in the middle on Thursday at Brisbane's Ian Healy Oval, which was due to host the tour match against the England Lions from Tuesday.

Constant rain washed out the first two days of play after just 29 overs were possible in last week's three-day tour match at Wellington Point's Peter Burge Oval.

But the skies cleared and James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes finally got a chance to bowl in a match scenario, Stokes taking 2-31 and the openers going wicketless as the Lions finished the day 4-226.

Fresh off a mental health break that followed an injury-interrupted season, allrounder Stokes hadn't played any form of cricket since July, while his last Test match was in March.

Zac Crawley, who appears set to lose the battle to open alongside Rory Burns to Haseeb Hameed, top-scored with 45 while three other batsmen retired not out in the 30s.

The match will continue on Friday.

Australia called off play in their planned intra-squad fixture that was due to be played at Peter Burge Oval, the side instead completing an indoor nets session at the National Cricket Centre.

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