In the cricketing world, the spotlight is often on the batters hitting boundaries and the bowlers sending stumps cartwheeling. But amid the action, England’s wicketkeeper, Ben Foakes, is silently making a name for himself with his quick hands.
Former England wicketkeeper Alec Stewart, no stranger to the art of glovework, has bestowed high praise upon Foakes. Despite the intimidating conditions faced by foreign keepers in the ongoing Test series against India, Foakes has showcased his exceptional wicketkeeping skills, claiming six catches and executing two stumpings.
“He does things that no one else can do. His hand speed is second to none. MS Dhoni had quick hands but he (Foakes) has the quickest hands in the game and the ball stays in them,” said Stewart to The Times.
Stewart, now the director of cricket at Surrey, revealed the meticulous preparation Foakes underwent for the India tour. Describing the intense sessions held between Christmas and New Year, Stewart emphasised Foakes’ work ethic and attention to detail.
“Foakes has got massive natural talent but his work ethic, and attention to detail, is as good as I’ve come across both when I played and since I’ve been in this role. He leaves no stone unturned. He works specifics and the quality of the work is impressive. He knew there would be a lot of spin bowling so it (his training) was 80-20 in favour of his standing-up stuff, which he’s brilliant at anyway – the ball bouncing, the ball turning, the ball keeping low. That’s why I was so pleased for him, (after) all the hours he’s put in, and then he gets rewarded with some of the catches he took.”
“We’d discuss the position of his feet, the height he gets, where his hands are. He leads it. We used the Merlin spin machine, mats that spin or one with holes cut in them, so that some spin and some bounce. We do it from 22 yards, or from ten or 11 yards. He knows what he wants to work on and we’ve done that since he joined us (in 2014 from Essex),” he added.
People should not underestimate his batting: Stewart
Foakes’ brilliance isn’t confined to his glovework; he made a significant contribution with the bat in Hyderabad, sharing a crucial sixth-wicket partnership with Ollie Pope. Stewart underlined that Foakes’ batting should not be underestimated, citing his nearly 40-average in first-class cricket.
“I said a while ago he’s the best in the world and, but for circumstances, he could be coming up to playing 50 or 60 Tests, but I get the need to balance the side and that’s why he’s not played (more). People should not underestimate his batting.
“He averages just shy of 40 in first-class cricket and when he’s played for England he’s been involved in some match-winning partnerships. You need to be not only physically fit and strong, but mentally fit and strong. The biggest thing is, if you miss a chance, how do you deal with it? He’s good at that,” concluded Stewart.