Ben Foakes: first look in Test cricket

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< 1 minute read

We don’t believe you can draw meaningful conclusions from players’ debuts – but we report on them anyway.

We have this thing where we reckon a chance is worth, on average, about 28 runs. Based on this, we believe it’s generally worth playing your best wicketkeeper in Test cricket because just one missed chance is worth more than any likely difference in batting average between that guy and the other guy who’s a better bat.

What we don’t know – and can never know – is how often Ben Foakes would take chances that Jonny Bairstow would fail to take. (We can’t even be sure that he actually would take more chances as there’s no way of putting them both in the exact same physical space at the exact same time to compare them.)

What we also can’t be sure of yet is whether Ben Foakes will even keep wicket at all. He’s got the little wicketkeeper symbol next to his name on the scorecard, but that’s purely theoretical until he takes off his batting gloves and puts on his wicketkeeping gloves. If they wanted, England could still head off all the inevitable worry about how wicketkeeping affects his batting by never actually asking him to keep wicket in the first place.

So what do we know?

We know two things:

  1. Ben Foakes can bat very well at number seven in a Test in Sri Lanka (in the first innings)
  2. It’s going to take a very long time to feel confident that Ben Foakes’ name really is Ben because of the nagging fear that you’ve been swayed by greater familiarity with the name Ben Stokes and in reality his name is Brian or Bjorn or Benny or Barold (the full-length version of Barry)


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. I’m sure Barold Marwood appeared on a ZX Spectrum cricket game I had in 1984. Or it might have been Harry Tichards.

    Bill Athey wasn’t in it, which disappointed me at the time.

  2. What stops England from using their multiple keepers as exactly that?

    I would think that, if as often promised, keeping wicket in Tests puts a strain your batting, then a good way to take advantage of having more than one bloke who can go behind the stumps is to rotate the position, just as you would move everyone else in the field. Maybe just differ it by session rather than by over to avoid it taking up time.

    It must be harder to keep well all day and bat than it is to keep well for a session and bat?

    1. Not sure I like this idea – it could lead to confusion over who is to keep, and when.

      What Time is Glove? they will have to ask.

  3. Foakesy claims to have been ‘pumped up’ by a message from AN Cook; this, surely, is an elite exaggeration. Can anyone imagine being motivated by watching or listening to Chef? I’m going to be looking rather silly indeed if his next career move is a successful turn in motivational speaking.

    1. Having been witness to some ‘inspirational speakers’ in a work context, I think Cook would fit in just fine.

  4. This selection and subsequent batting performance brings us another step closer to the dream of English selectors for generations, a batting top 5 who could all credibly keep wicket i.e. without looking like a dying swan behind the stumps.

    1. As a wicketkeeper-batsman and also someone whose name ends -oakes, Ben is really ticking a lot of current England team boxes.

      1. We must be close to being able to pick the team containing only wicketkeepers and all rounders.

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