Ben Foakes plays down hope of being England's first-choice keeper | England in India 2020-21

Ben Foakes will make his Test return during the current tour of India but he has decided to eschew any thoughts of trying to nail down a ...


Ben Foakes will make his Test return during the current tour of India but he has decided to eschew any thoughts of trying to nail down a permanent spot as England’s wicketkeeper after his experience two years ago.

The 27-year-old has become something of a cause célèbre since an eye-catching arrival during the 3-0 win in Sri Lanka in late 2018 – including a century on debut in Galle and silken glovework overall – was followed by two more low-key outings in the Caribbean and a swift hook from the stage.

Having been taken aback by the clinical nature of the call – England returned the gloves to Jonny Bairstow in a bid to strengthen the batting – Foakes is slightly downbeat about the prospect of usurping Jos Buttler when the first-choice wicketkeeper flies home to rest after the first Test in Chennai.

Foakes, who expects to get the final three Tests but will still ready himself for Friday just in case, said: “I’m more just looking at it to try and do well, not think outside of performing. I think it will very much be a case of Jos is No 1.

“After getting dropped last time, you don’t really know if you’re gonna play again or get another chance to wear the shirt so I think I am approaching it more as I’ve got a potential chance to play more Tests for England and see where it goes.

“I did expect to get more of a run [in the Test team previously]. I guess it’s tricky to control your emotions in that sense. I got pretty high with all the things going on then and it gets taken away from you because I didn’t get runs in the West Indies.

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“I know the strength of competition with the keepers is so high, so there are going to be times I’m not playing. That’s something I have to accept and be at peace with. If I do get a chance at any stage just try to enjoy it and embrace it.”

Jack Russell recently told the Cricketer magazine that Foakes is “the most naturally gifted wicketkeeper in the world” when stood up to the stumps but the man himself, while flattered by the praise from a former master, is not getting carried away.

“Anything like that is amazing to hear from someone like [Russell],” said Foakes. “But as a player, I guess I’m quite critical. I find it difficult to praise myself, so everything I do I’m trying to improve and be as good as I can.

“I really struggle to see the positives or let those comments in. It’s just trying to not mess up basically, do the best job I can and put the work in.”

Not that his batting is shabby, either. Of all the England players to make their Test debut since Joe Root in 2012, only Haseeb Hameed (on the India tour in 2016) and Foakes average more than 40. It begs the question as to whether a specialist batsman who started so brightly would have got longer, not that the man himself is looking into this.

Foakes said: “I am a keeper and in terms of going down the route of a specialist batter, there are other guys ahead of me. It’s a case of when there is a keeping slot available.”

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Newsrust: Ben Foakes plays down hope of being England's first-choice keeper | England in India 2020-21
Ben Foakes plays down hope of being England's first-choice keeper | England in India 2020-21
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