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:
- Ben Foakes can bat very well at number seven in a Test in Sri Lanka (in the first innings)
- 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)