Foakes breaks silence on being dropped for the Ashes - 'Watching was difficult'

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Ben Foakes is determined to win his England spot back (Image: ECB)
Ben Foakes is determined to win his England spot back (Image: ECB)

Ben Foakes has admitted he found watching the Ashes "difficult" - but he insists "there's no sour grapes" over his axe.

The Surrey star was controversially dropped as England's wicketkeeper on the eve of the summer to make way for the returning Jonny Bairstow. The decision raised eyebrows, as many county cricket fans regard Foakes as the best wicketkeeper in the world.

It was probably not the right decision, either. Although Bairstow scored three half-centuries - including an unbeaten 99 at Old Trafford - he kept poorly. The Yorkshireman dropped several catches and fluffed a chance to run out Steve Smith at the Oval.

Although Foakes was denied the chance to play in the biggest series for an Englishman, he doesn't hold any grudges. The 30-year-old is determined to win back the gloves ahead of England's next Test series against India in January.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Foakes described the recent Ashes series - which ended in a 2-2 draw - as "entertaining". Yet he admitted: "Watching was difficult."

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Foakes added: "Everyone is desperate to play the Ashes. It does seem to grip the country, unlike any other series. You get remembered for what you do in the Ashes. Guys who do well in this forge their names, it would have been nice to do that, but it is what it is."

Foakes has described his career as "topsy-turvy" - and it's hard to disagree with that. He became one of the most popular figures in English cricket after starting his career with Essex before joining Surrey in 2015, winning two County Championship titles.

County cricket fans admire Foakes for his ability as a wicketkeeper, but the presence of Bairstow and Buttler has always limited his international hopes. Bairstow and Buttler are considered as two of the best wicketkeeper-batters of their generation.

Foakes was handed his England chance against Sri Lanka in November 2018 after Bairstow suffered an injury playing football. He made full use of his opportunity by scoring a century on Test debut, but he was soon dropped in favour of Bairstow and Buttler.

Foakes breaks silence on being dropped for the Ashes - 'Watching was difficult'Jonny Bairstow was given the gloves for the Ashes (Gareth Copley - ECB/ECB via Getty Images)

Did you think England were right to drop Ben Foakes? Let us know in the comments below!

Foakes spent the next three-and-a-half years trying to get back into the Test squad - playing the odd game here and there - and finally became England's first-choice wicketkeeper when Ben Stokes took over the captaincy ahead of last summer.

He's barely put a foot wrong since then and was expected to make his Ashes debut this summer. Yet Foakes' hopes were dashed when Bairstow, who was playing as a specialist batter at the time, suffered horrific leg injury towards the end of last summer.

That allowed Harry Brook to take Bairstow's spot as the final specialist batter in the XI. Brook has since scored four Test centuries, making him indispensable, and England were forced to squeeze Bairstow back into the side when he returned to fitness.

Foakes has praised the "really good" communication of England's management. Yet he admitted: "You feel a bit lost. You get to exactly where you want to be, your career path is going a certain way and then it takes a halt and goes a completely different direction."

Rob Key is England's managing director, with Brendon McCullum as coach and Stokes as captain. On his future, Foakes added: "I’ll just be trying to find my best cricket and block everything else out, and try to win the Championship. That’s a great distraction."

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Tom Blow

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