Ashes 2017/18: Ben Foakes has been named in the England squad for Australia - but who is he?
By Sky Sports Cricket
Last Updated: 27/09/17 11:56am
Surrey's Ben Foakes has been included in England's squad for this winter's Ashes as the back-up wicketkeeper. So what do we know about him? Here's a quick overview…
Full name: Benjamin Thomas Foakes
Twitter: No account
First-class batting: 3,892 runs at 42.30
First-class wicketkeeping: 135 catches, 13 stumpings
So England have finally picked the best wicketkeeper in the world game…
Steady! That was Alec Stewart's resounding endorsement of Foakes ahead of Surrey's season, when he championed not only the batting prowess but the exceptional glovework of Foakes. After playing 133 Tests for England - 82 of them behind the stumps - Stewart certainly knows ability when he sees it and Andy Flower and the Lions coaches haven't been shy in pushing Foakes' case so he has some strong advocates in his corner.
But do the stats back that up?
The numbers stack up nicely without being astounding enough for him to displace first-choice glovesman Jonny Bairstow. That said, in the three Championship seasons since Foakes switched from Essex he hasn't scored fewer than 1,000 runs or averaged less than 42 with the bat - hitting four centuries, including a personal best 141no against Hampshire. He was in stellar form during this summer's Royal London One-Day Cup run to the final too, hitting six fifties in seven knocks - including 90 against Yorkshire in the semi-final - on his way to 481 runs at an average of 105.
So he's been on England's radar for a while then?
Absolutely - and he got a taste of the hype around the Ashes when he was 12th man at the 2013 Trent Bridge Test, principally spending time on the field covering for the injured Stuart Broad and going through some vigorous batting sessions with Graham Gooch. The year before he was England's top-scorer at the U19 World Cup after striking 92 off Nepal, 54 against South Africa and 47 against Bangladesh and was subsequently picked for the Lions' tour down under.
How about more recently?
Foakes hit the headlines in June when he struck an unbeaten 127 off 187 balls in the Lions' 257-run victory over South Africa A - outscoring Mark Stoneman (58), Haseeb Hameed (nought) and Keaton Jennings (57) in the first innings in the process. That came after he snared a Lions' record of 10 dismissals against Sri Lanka A during the winter - beating Steve Rhodes' record of nine for England 'A' against Transvaal in 1993. Rhodes went on to earn 11 Test caps…
So all roads point to Test honours?
The signs suggest so - Foakes even being born during an England Test. Forget the fact that Gooch's England were trounced by an innings and 15 runs by India, at Mumbai, on February 23, 1993 - and were whitewashed as a result. Forget that, though. This was the day one of England's future stars was born!
But who had the gloves that day? Stewie?
Have a guess.
Stewie? Nope. Jack Russell? No. Bruce French? Way out.
Come on then…
It was none other than Yorkshire's Richard Blakey, whose two-Test career ended with a golden duck when he was bowled first ball by Anil Kumble. Funny you should mention French, though, as the former England wicketkeeper was a key influence on Foakes early on in his representative years.
Why on earth did Essex ever let Foakes leave?
It's a fair question with a simple explanation - Foakes found himself in wicketkeeper log-jam behind James Foster. It's worth saying that Essex were loathed to let him go, having brought him up through their academy, but with opportunities limited the 21-year-old decided it was time to move on. Not that he had it easy at Surrey, where Gary Wilson and Steven Davies offered viable wicketkeeping options, but after proving his worth he quickly made the position his own.