Ben Foakes admits he has little chance of breaking into England’s limited-overs team despite leading them to victory on debut in Dublin.
Foakes made an unbeaten 61 – the only half-century of the match – to help England secure a win that looked unlikely when they subsided to 66 for 5 within 15 overs of their reply. Keeping wonderfully calm despite the apparently hopeless position, Foakes added 98 in 15 overs with Tom Curran for the seventh wicket to see his side home. It meant that he followed the man-of-the-match award he won on Test debut with a man-of-the-match award on his ODI debut. He makes his T20I debut on Sunday in Cardiff.
But, as he has seen from his Test career, that is no guarantee of longevity. And despite finishing his debut Test series in Sri Lanka as England’s man of the series, Foakes was dropped after two more games in the Caribbean as England struggled to balance their side. With Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, who have both been rested following their IPL stints, to come back into the side in the coming days, he knows there is a chance he may never play again.
“Can I break into the team? Probably not,” Foakes admitted. “Jos is probably the best keeper-batsman in the world and Jonny is probably second, if not first. It’s ridiculous.
“So just to get the game has been great. It’s something I didn’t expect. I didn’t really think I’d make my debut.”
While Foakes is probably right in the short term – there were seven first-choice England players missing from this side, after all, and he was only called up when one of their replacements, Sam Billings, suffered an injury – he did show the skills that this England side has sometimes lacked in recent times.
Adapting to the slow surface, he was content to rotate the strike and pick up singles for an unusually long time in modern ODI cricket – his first boundary, a pulled six off Boyd Rankin, came from the 57th delivery he faced – and he showed an unflustered temperament that was a little reminiscent of MS Dhoni. There have been a few times in the recent past that England could have benefited from such composure.
“Jos is probably the best keeper-batsman in the world and Jonny is probably second, if not first. It’s ridiculous.”
Foakes is realistic about his place in the pecking order
“It was one of those rebuilding jobs and I guess that suited my game a little bit,” Foakes said. “I just had to get my head down and fight it out. It was a bit of a grind.
“Whenever you lose that many wickets early, you’ve got a job to do to stick in there and not get out. There were a few nerves, but there was never a stage where the run-rate was getting out of hand. The guys like Tim Murtagh and the slower bowlers were tough work on that sort of wicket, so the job was to see them off, try not to get out, and when a bit of pace came on, get a bit more value for your shots.”
At one stage with Foakes at the crease, England scored just nine runs in six overs with Murtagh and George Dockrell – their bowling speeds around 14 mph apart – bowling their allocation of nine overs each for a combined total of just 56 runs. But with both bowled out with eight overs remaining and Ireland obliged to rely on two debutants in Mark Adair and the impressive Josh Little, Foakes always had confidence in himself and his lower-order colleagues to get the job done. Adil Rashid (10 first-class centuries), Liam Plunkett (three) and Jofra Archer were all still to bat.
“Plunkett was coming in No.11 today, so I knew we batted deep,” Foakes said. “In that sort of situation you know what the job is, you don’t go too far out of your comfort zone. It’s just about soaking up the pressure.”
Foakes also completed a stumping to dismiss the dangerous Andy Balbirnie. While most of the talk around the dismissal concerned the amount of time Foakes waited for Balbirnie to raise his back leg – Ireland captain William Porterfield subsequently claimed “the ball was pretty much dead” – what was perhaps more significant was the smooth way Foakes collected the leg-side wide.
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“It was quite wide down leg,” Foakes said, “but I got it back to the stumps. When it’s a sweep you think they might fall over and I just saw he lifted his foot and nicked them off.”
Porterfield was less impressed by that moment, and suggested games would last “15 hours” if keepers continually applied such tactics.
“You can say it was great wicketkeeping or you can say it’s a bit of a grey area of ‘when is the ball dead?’
“The ball was pretty much dead. The batsman wasn’t going anywhere or over-balanced. The keeper has waited for three or four seconds. If we do that all day it’s going be a pretty long game. How long do you wait? We’ll be playing 15-hour games if you wait that long.”
While Porterfield admitted the match felt “like the one that got away”, he said he was “proud” of his team and accepted that, in retrospect, he should have called for a review when Foakes was adjudged not out to a leg-before appeal when he had scored 37. Hawkeye replays subsequently showed that, had Ireland called for the review, Foakes would have been out.
“We should have reviewed it,” he said. “But there were only about 10 overs left and you don’t know if you’re going to get another chance? It probably looked as high as any of them but it was red. If I could go back an hour I’d be reviewing it.”
Meanwhile it seems Dawid Malan, who sustained an injury while batting, will be unavailable for Sunday’s T20I in Cardiff. England are likely to call for a replacement player.
Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1183167.html?CMP=OTC-RSS