‘It was a lovely surprise and a proud moment’: Ben Foakes admits to nerves despite shining with the bat on his England Test debut against Sri Lanka
- Ben Foakes scored 87 not out as England began the first Test against Sri Lanka
- Surrey star was expecting to have a winter away from cricket before his call-up
- Foakes admitted to being nervous but still helped England steady the ship
Ben Foakes admitted he was preparing for a winter away from cricket when he got the call from national selector Ed Smith summoning him to Sri Lanka.
Foakes, 25, was on holiday in Lisbon with Surrey team-mates when Smith phoned to tell him that Jonny Bairstow had injured his ankle playing football.
He made 16 and 19 – both not out – in the two warm-up games in Colombo, before being informed on Monday that he was about to win his first Test cap.
Ben Foakes raises his bat after scoring 87 not out on his England Test debut against Sri Lanka
Foakes plays a low shot during the first day of the first Test at Galle International Stadium
‘I found out yesterday during training when Rooty came up to me,’ he said after finishing the first day of the first Test in Galle on 87 not out. ‘I was quite shocked: I didn’t think I’d be playing. But it was a lovely surprise and a proud moment.’
Foakes, widely regarded as the best wicketkeeper in county cricket, has been on the brink for a while. He impressed the England management with his demeanour as a perpetual drinks carrier during the Ashes tour a year ago, and has been a regular with the Lions.
‘It’s been quite a few years of Lions and stuff,’ he said. ‘But it’s been quite a long time without a break, and that month of getting away was beautiful. It meant I could arrive here fresh.’
Foakes’s first task was to shore up a familiar top-order wobble, but he took the mini-crisis in his stride.
‘When you’re on your debut, you don’t even know what the scoreboard is doing – you’re just a bit nervous in your own head. I was just thinking I had to grind in, and when I got off the mark, it helped me settle down.
Sam Curran (right) congratulates Foakes on reaching his half century on Tuesday afternoon
Foakes has admitted that he was surprised to be called-up by national selector Ed Smith
Foakes, who struggled with cramp in his left thumb, added 61 with Jos Buttler, then 88 with his Surrey colleague Sam Curran and 56 with the aggressive Adil Rashid.
‘When I first went in, I found it quite tough. The pitch was quite tacky, and you couldn’t play shots too well. But it dried out a bit through the day, and you got more value and could play strong shots.’
After the frantic performance of those above him, Foakes’s modest tally of six fours in 184 balls suggested he got it just right.
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