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Foakes, he’s the world’s finest ’keeper

There may be one Ben Foakes story informed by his childhood coach Tony Stubbs, who has seen him from the age of six and remains to be in contact. It’s about his wicketkeeping abilities which have made Indian followers gasp in awe. It dates again to when Foakes was about 15. “I jokingly told him once to stump slowly. You are too quick for the umpires!”

It seems {the teenager} was upset that the umpires in membership cricket had been lacking his hand-flashes that may ship the bails flying with batsmen’s again ft barely above the bottom. Stubbs’ level was maybe that if the younger ’keeper barely delayed the breaking of the stumps, the batsmen would stumble out extra and the umpires might catch the trespass. “He was that good, even as a kid. It’s a God-given gift,” says Stubbs, the coach at Foakes’ cricket membership ‘Frinton On Sea’, named after the seaside city in Essex.

A bit just like the Rohit Sharma dismissal, then. With out tv replays, Foakes wouldn’t have been awarded that stumping; he was too fast for the bare eye. Sharma’s foot was nearly off the bottom and even when he was ready for the decision, the batsman wore a assured look maybe pondering nobody may very well be that fast. In spite of everything, it wasn’t MS Dhoni behind the stumps, however a nasty shock awaited him.

From an early age

WhatsApp Image 2021 02 15 at 11.53.51 PM Ben Foakes, second from proper, kneeling on the entrance row. Behind him standing is brother Matt (second from proper on again row) . The coach is Tony Stubbs . (Photograph courtesy: Tony Stubbs)

Nevertheless, it’s a catch from when he was 14 that also sticks in Stubbs’ thoughts. “I can still see it now. He was 14, it was an outswinger and the batsman had shaped for the drive. Ben had moved to his right, but it came off the inside edge. But the kid jack-knifed stunningly and dived to his left to take an incredible catch. He calmly dusted himself off, threw the ball in the air, and walked towards his team-mates. I was fielding that day and couldn’t believe he had taken it. As India would now have seen him, he is the world’s best ’keeper!” Stubbs purrs in satisfaction.

Foakes’s brother Matt, who performed for a similar membership, additionally dates the catching talent to the identical time interval. “He started talking worldies [slang for extraordinary catches] as soon as he came into the first team about 15. His hands were always too quick for umpires in our league. He was always a natural.”

In a video for his bat sponsor Grey-Nicolls, Foakes talks about his artwork. “Keeping the head still is the main thing. I was struggling a little bit with the wobble. I was tensing up. I can’t quite stress enough how important it is to keep these [he touches the left and the right shoulder] as heavy as you can. That changed my ’keeping. If you can keep that feeling within your body, all of a sudden it becomes a different game. I keep my head at the ball and let the body take care of itself. It’s so much easier to come up from down. Keeping your head to the ball allows you to keep down.”


Ben has “18.09.06” inked on his left wrist, a reminder of the day his father died. When Foakes was 5, it was his father Peter who took him and his brother Matt to the membership and launched a love for the sport. Peter was a referee in Premier League soccer and had labored on video games with Paul Gascoigne in his time. “It was all of a sudden and a great shock to all of us. I can’t speak for Ben (who was 13 then) but cricket probably helped in the coping process. He threw himself into the game. Peter was a lovely man, a friend, I remember many an evening at the club. His two kids listening to the banter between Peter and the club members about this and that. Both the brothers were very good-looking, even as kids,” Stubbs laughs.

There’s a purpose behind that laughter. Within the changeroom, inside their membership’s dressing room, there’s a mirror on which an inscription runs: ‘Mirror Mirror on the wall, Foakesy is the fairest of all of them”.

Matt explains. “One of the old boys at the club used to think Ben and myself took too long to get ready after games so put that mirror up in our honour when we moved to London and left the club.”

Extra proof is littered alongside the driveway. Nestled in a tree, a signboard reads, ‘Ben Foakes Drive’. Beneath, in crimson color and all caps, it says, ‘But Matthew Foakes is better looking’. “The club were proud of Ben after Sri Lanka, so named the track down to the club after him. I think it was my mate’s mum that added the other bit!” says Matt.

Dream debut

The brothers are thick, and it comes out within the manic journey that Matt took when he realized that his brother was going to make his Check debut in Sri Lanka in 2018. “He texted me a day before saying that he will be playing next day,” Matt says. He rushed instantly to the airport and managed to succeed in Sri Lanka by the night of the primary day when his brother had rescued England from 103 for five with an unbeaten 87 by shut of play. The brothers had dinner collectively and it was Matt who was a “quivering wreck”. The subsequent day, the dream unfolded. “My first hour of watching him in test cricket included his century and first catch. It was very special that I was able to make it there in time to experience it. I was a very proud brother.”

Their mom Fiona, a trainer who today is a mentor for academy gamers at Essex County Cricket Membership, wasn’t so fortunate. “I got a text as well. Unfortunately, my phone was silent and that was two hours later. I don’t live near the airport. I got home, threw things in a suitcase and went. I booked my flight tickets on the train to Heathrow,” she stated then in a BBC interview. She was in Dubai on transit and following the rating on-line when her son bought to the hundred. “I was a bumbling wreck. Sleep-deprived and very happy!” And when the speak veers to attractiveness in that interview, his mom quips, “comes from the mother!”.

Again on the membership, deliriousness and champagne had been within the air. “We were up there at 4 am to catch the cricket on the big screen as a group,” Stubbs says. “Not much sleep. Great joy and drinks, even though some might say it was a bit early in the day!” he laughs. This Check in opposition to India has been comparatively calmer, he has been watching it at house. “Ben owes a lot to his mother,” Stubbs says. “When he got into the Essex age-group cricket, she would drive him on the highway from Frinton to Chelmsford. Not a great road too, lots of accidents frequently.” Matt agrees. “My Mum spent half her time driving Ben around to all his games and sessions and still comes up to London to watch him at the Oval all the time. She’s definitely a big part of his success.”


The euphoria across the debut was additionally due to the hurdles in the way in which of Foakes getting there. First, Essex couldn’t discover a place for him. “They had James Foster and wouldn’t play Ben,” Stubbs says. The shift to Surrey eased issues up as Alec Stewart, answerable for county cricket at Surrey, instantly pronounced him the “best keeper in the world”.

However England wouldn’t pay attention. First, there was Jonny Bairstow and once they began to look past him as a Check ’keeper, they went for Jos Buttler. Even after the debut hundred in Sri Lanka, Foakes was left within the chilly fairly quickly after. Matt would remind his brother that “he was still getting to play for Surrey and play cricket for a living which most people can only dream about”. He went again to county cricket however Frinton seethed. “Astonishing, really, that they wouldn’t just give him a go. What more he needed to do?” Stubbs turns rhetorical.

Verify the Twitter feed of Frinton membership for the previous few years. Humorous whining about Foakes’ absence from the England crew is a operating theme. Video clips of his ’maintaining are Gif-ed. Messages to selectors are despatched. Charming parochialism has by no means seemed higher. “Parochialism?” Stubbs sneezes. “He is the BEST ’KEEPER in the world!” One other chortle. From time to time he would return from Surrey to play a membership recreation, particularly when it was in bother. “In 2014, he got us out of relegation. Now, we are at a successful place.” Foakes’ picture is caught on to the clubhouse bar’s clock, the fingers of time arc round his face. “I am still the better looking one, 100%,” says Matt.

There’s a cliched line about wicketkeepers: ‘A good ’keeper goes unnoticed. You solely see them once they make a mistake’. That line might be binned for Foakes and an additional cess might be charged to the tickets to say: come watch Foakes maintain.

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