Foakes’ hun­dred a night­mare in dis­guise

Sport360 - - England V Sri Lanka - By Dan Gil­lott @Sport360 ✉ ed­i­to­rial@sport360.com

For­mer Eng­land wicket-keeper Matt Prior reck­ons Ben Foakes’s hun­dred on his Test de­but in the series opener against Sri Lanka has left the se­lec­tors with a “night­mare de­ci­sion”.

Foakes was only given his Eng­land chance af­ter first-choice Test wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow sus­tained an an­kle in­jury play­ing foot­ball in a warm-up dur­ing the pre­ced­ing one-day series but he re­sponded with a fine 107 in Eng­land’s first in­nings in Galle.

The 25-year-old be­came just the 20th English­man in 141 years of Test cricket to score a hun­dred on de­but and only the sec­ond keeper af­ter Prior, who made an un­beaten 126 against the West Indies at Lord’s in 2007.

Eng­land were in trou­ble when Foakes walked out to bat but his ton, which he com­pleted on Wed­nes­day, proved the corner­stone of an even­tual first-in­nings to­tal of 342.

“Get­ting a de­but hun­dred is phe­nom­e­nal but in this in­nings in par­tic­u­lar, to walk out at 103 for five and play in for­eign con­di­tions, with all the chal­lenges that come with that, is just a huge, huge ef­fort,” said Prior, a mem­ber of the talkSPORT ra­dio com­men­tary team cov­er­ing the series in Sri Lanka.

Foakes’ cen­tury, al­lied to some sub­se­quent sound work be­hind the stumps, has left Eng­land with a dilemma should Bairstow be fit for the sec­ond Test in Pallekelle.

Do the se­lec­tors drop Foakes af­ter such an im­pres­sive and con­fi­dent de­but or do they re­tain the Sur­rey wick­et­keeper and play Bairstow purely as a bats­man? It could cause some sleep­less nights, ac­cord­ing to Prior.

“It’s go­ing to be a se­lec­tors’ night­mare,” he said.

“Jonny, fully fit, would have played this Test match, prob­a­bly would have per­formed well, done well with the gloves and scored runs and we wouldn’t be hav­ing this con­ver­sa­tion,” in­sisted Prior.

“If he is fully fit, then he should come back into the team. Whether he keeps wicket, that’s a whole other con­ver­sa­tion.

“I be­lieve you’ve got to pick the team that’s go­ing to win you a Test match on any given day.

“If it’s deemed that ac­tu­ally Ben Foakes isn’t in the XI that’s go­ing to win a Test match then you have to make that tough call.”

Se­lec­tors stumped? Ben Foakes.

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