England cricket team vs Sri Lanka: Ben Foakes to retain his place after impressive debut, says Joe Root

Foakes will pick up a second Test cap on Wednesday, the England captain revealed

Ed Malyon
Pallekele, Sri Lanka
Monday 12 November 2018 20:39
England wicket keeper Ben Foakes in action on his debut
England wicket keeper Ben Foakes in action on his debut

Ben Foakes will retain his place in the England team for the second Test, skipper Joe Root has confirmed.

The Surrey gloveman was handed a debut as a specialist keeper after Jonny Bairstow injured his ankle last month, but Foakes shone with the bat, turning the first Test around at Galle with a brilliant first-innings century and showing flawless hands behind the stumps.

After such a dream debut, the 25 year old said that he wouldn’t care if he never played another Test, such was his delight at how things had gone in his first appearance.

But he will pick up a second Test cap on Wednesday, the England captain revealed.

Ben Foakes impressed on his Test debut 

“Ben is going to keep,” Root said on the eve of the second Test in Pallekele, where a victory would secure England a first series win away from home since 2012.

“We’ve come to Sri Lanka to win this tour. And in these conditions, I think Ben is the best option behind the stumps.

“Jonny is a fine keeper and what he’s done over the last couple of years has been exceptional. He’s pretty much been faultless, not really stood out at all which is probably a good think for a wicketkeeper and long-term see him as a focal part of the Test team.

“It’s a great opportunity for Ben to show is ability and I think you’ve got to reward a performance like last week.”

Foakes was crowned Man of the Match for his performance in Galle and solves England's first selection headache as they work out their team for the second Test.

Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings will open the batting but there is almost certainly going to be a change at three, where Jos Buttler or Ben Stokes are likely to be promoted up the order. Jonny Bairstow is desperate to return and took full part in training but sounds unlikely to be risked, with Root admitting he’s “still a week or so” off being 100% fit.

Jos Buttler could be moved up the order

Adil Rashid and Sam Curran’s places in the XI were both understood to be under threat from Stuart Broad, though having seen the pitch the England hierarchy appear to have softened on their stance towards playing three spinners at Pallekele. Should Broad be overlooked, there remains a chance that he sees no action on the entire tour despite boasting 433 career wickets in Tests.

Despite all the talk of England’s huge amount of options, there remains the very real chance that the tourists go into the second Test match unchanged in personnel terms but with Ali dropping down the order and either Buttler or Stokes stepping up, something the former didn’t seem too concerned about.

“I think in the immediate future whatever number you bat doesn’t change how the game will be presented much,” Buttler said.

“There’s a 90% chance you’ll start against spin. It’s still going to be a spin-orientated game. I’m happy to bat wherever for the team, it’s just down to me to be prepared to bat wherever.”

Expected line-up

Burns, Jennings, Buttler, Root (c), Stokes, Ali, Foakes, Curran, Rashid, Leach, Anderson.

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