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Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes set to make England debut in first Test against Sri Lanka


Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes set to make England debut in first Test against Sri Lanka as Joe Root and Co splash about in soggy Galle training session

  • First Test between Sri Lanka and England gets underway in Galle on Tuesday
  • Joe Root’s team trained at a soggy Galle International Stadium on Monday
  • Ben Foakes is expected to take the place of Jonny Bairstow as wicketkeeper
  • Bairstow injured his ankle playing football in training and will miss first Test
  • Rory Burns is expected to open the batting alongside Keaton Jennings 

Lawrence Booth for MailOnline

England are set to hand a Test debut to Surrey’s Ben Foakes, described last year by Alec Stewart, his director of cricket at Surrey, as the ‘best wicketkeeper in the world’.

Foakes was originally called up for the Test series in Sri Lanka, which starts on Tuesday in Galle, after their first-choice keeper Jonny Bairstow injured his ankle playing football.

That still left Jos Buttler as Bairstow’s likely replacement behind the stumps, but a lack of runs for Joe Denly during England’s two rain-affected warm-up games in Colombo last week appears to have prompted a rethink among the management.

Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka's wicketkeeper in the first Test with Sri Lanka in Galle

Ben Foakes is set to be England’s wicketkeeper in the first Test with Sri Lanka in Galle

Foakes will replace Jonny Bairstow (right) behind the stumps after the latter - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka's ankle injury

Foakes will replace Jonny Bairstow (right) behind the stumps after the latter - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka's ankle injury

Foakes will replace Jonny Bairstow (right) behind the stumps after the latter’s ankle injury

James Anderson splashes in the puddles at the Galle International Stadium on Monday  - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

James Anderson splashes in the puddles at the Galle International Stadium on Monday  - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

James Anderson splashes in the puddles at the Galle International Stadium on Monday 

Stuart Broad and Co trained in soggy conditions in Galle on the eve of the opening Test - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

Stuart Broad and Co trained in soggy conditions in Galle on the eve of the opening Test - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

Stuart Broad and Co trained in soggy conditions in Galle on the eve of the opening Test

Broad walks over the water-laden covers during practice at the Galle International Stadium - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

Broad walks over the water-laden covers during practice at the Galle International Stadium - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

Broad walks over the water-laden covers during practice at the Galle International Stadium

Sri Lanka vs England 

First Test – Galle

November 6-10

Second Test – Pallekele

November 14-18

Third Test – Colombo

November 23-27 

The most likely scenario now is that Foakes will join his county team-mate Rory Burns in winning a first Test cap, while Buttler will play as a specialist batsman, probably at No 6. Denly is poised to miss out altogether.

The 25-year-old Foakes spent another damp day in Galle honing his glovework with England’s wicketkeeping coach Bruce French, while Buttler concentrated on his batting.

In theory, England shouldn’t be weakened by the move. Foakes averages 40 in first-class cricket, with eight hundreds from 137 innings. Buttler, by contrast, averages 32, with five hundreds from 140 innings.

England skipper Joe Root inspects the surface ahead of the first of three Tests in Sri Lanka - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

England skipper Joe Root inspects the surface ahead of the first of three Tests in Sri Lanka - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

England skipper Joe Root inspects the surface ahead of the first of three Tests in Sri Lanka

The Galle Fort is visible in the background as the groundsmen move a cover for Root to look - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

The Galle Fort is visible in the background as the groundsmen move a cover for Root to look - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

The Galle Fort is visible in the background as the groundsmen move a cover for Root to look

Root spins the ball as England train on the eve of the first of three Tests with Sri Lanka - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

Root spins the ball as England train on the eve of the first of three Tests with Sri Lanka - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

Root spins the ball as England train on the eve of the first of three Tests with Sri Lanka

England - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka's new opening batting partnership Rory Burns (left) and Keaton Jennings

England - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka's new opening batting partnership Rory Burns (left) and Keaton Jennings

England’s new opening batting partnership Rory Burns (left) and Keaton Jennings

England selector Ed Smith smooths his hair as he talks to coach Trevor Bayliss in Galle - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

England selector Ed Smith smooths his hair as he talks to coach Trevor Bayliss in Galle - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

England selector Ed Smith smooths his hair as he talks to coach Trevor Bayliss in Galle

At least some rain is forecast on all but one day of the first Test in Galle this week - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

At least some rain is forecast on all but one day of the first Test in Galle this week - Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes Set To Make England Debut In First Test Against Sri Lanka

At least some rain is forecast on all but one day of the first Test in Galle this week

On top of that, Foakes’s work behind the stumps was often outstanding as Surrey clinched their first county championship title since 2002.

If Foakes bats at No 7, it could leave Moeen Ali free to carry on his role at No 3. The only debate then would be how to configure the bowling attack, with Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes all potentially fighting for one spot.

 

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