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
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.
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’s ankle injury
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
Broad walks over the water-laden covers during practice at the Galle International Stadium
Sri Lanka vs England
First Test – Galle
Second Test – Pallekele
Third Test – Colombo
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
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
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
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.