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Debutant Foakes ‘surprised’ at selection

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Even after he was called up to the England squad as cover for Jonny Bairstow Ben Foakes had no expectation of featuring in the first Test.

“When Rooty came to me yesterday, I was pretty surprised be honest with you,” Foakes, who scored 87* on debut in Galle, told Sky Sports at the close of play on day one.

“It was quite whirlwind,” he said. “I’ve always dreamt of a debut, so I had the emotions going on this morning, and there was a bit of rain around, so we weren’t quite sure when we’d get on.

“I had no idea what I’d be like, but I was better than I thought I’d be, and getting off the mark second ball, that relieved a lot of pressure.”

Foakes said he was somewhat prepared by having been involved in numerous Lions tours to Sri Lanka as well as his involvement in last winter’s Ashes trip as Bairstow’s deputy.

“You get a sense of how conditions are and the heat that comes with it,” he said. “And last winter, I mean, the Ashes is pretty cool, isn’t it? The hype and the buzz around that, and getting to know all the guys for a winter before makes it easy when you come back in.

“It looked quite tough this morning, it had been a lot wetter [in the build-up] so it spun a lot. All I was thinking I was trying to just grind in and make it hard for them to get me out, basically.”

Foakes entered the fray at 103-5 after a frenetic start by England’s top order.

“I think given the state of the game, I had to kind of nudge and nurdle, which is my game, then it got a little bit drier so it got easier to score your runs. Throughout the day it got easier for us.

“I personally try to be pretty simple, I haven’t got the array of shots of the other guys, I have to try to be quick on my feet, go back and forward, and just try and play a simple game.”

But facing 156 balls in such humidity, plus the nerves of a Test debut, had taken it out of the 25-year-old keeper-bat.

“I think I’ll pass out straight away, it’s hit me quite hard today,” he said. “I’ll sleep better than last night at any rate!”

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