‘A match made in heaven’: Ben Foakes hails England’s new Test leadership
Wins over world champions New Zealand at Lord’s and Trent Bridge have made Test cricket cool again after a nightmare run of defeats left England languishing in the rankings.
And wicketkeeper Foakes believes the approach of England’s refreshed management is proving infectious in the dressing room, with confidence soaring after Bairstow and Stokes’ run chase for the ages in Nottingham.
“It seems like a match made in heaven,” said Foakes, speaking at the Lord’s Taverners National Table Cricket Finals where he saw nearly 70 young people with disabilities from 10 schools across the country represent their schools compete for the title of the National Table Cricket Champion 2022 at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s.
“Brendon’s amazing and as characters, both Ben and him are such strong leaders.
“Brendon gave a team talk at the tea break in that last Test. It was so inspirational. It was like everyone wanted to get out there, like they saw everything that could go right. And then, obviously, you saw the way Jonny (Bairstow) and Ben played. It just seems to be going so smoothly at the moment.
“Obviously, at 2-0 up, there is such a relaxed vibe in there. It’s been amazing so far, but I think that’s helped by his positive attitude. I think him and Ben are just such positive guys, and they never see the negatives or what could go wrong. They’re just always trying to achieve the win.
“So, I think it’s just that shift in mindset going from what could go wrong to everything that could go right. It’s been awesome so far.”
Foakes has been tipped for years as England’s next wicketkeeper but the Surrey star, who made his debut in 2018 before drifting out the side, hopes to make the gloves his own ahead of next year’s Ashes.
He has taken 11 catches in the series and contributed with the bat too, as England’s new swashbuckling style has won over fans starved of a Test series success for 18 months.
However, winning is a habit - and a series whitewash at Headingley, with the weather set fair in Leeds, is now firmly on Foakes’ radar.
“Obviously, it’s been a tough time for English cricket and the test side,” he added. “I think the brand that we are trying to play will attract fans.
“To be able to put positive performances in and to start to get those wins is a great start and something that we have to continue.
“It’s almost like pushing the boundaries of Test cricket because it’s not really what you expect to see, so I think I was basically a spectator for most of it, and I was having a great time. And you could see that in the crowd, everyone in the ground got every bit of satisfaction out of being there.
“I think we go into every game to try and win. That energy that Ben and Brendan bring is that we’re always going to try and win this game. We don’t worry about anything else. That’s what we’re going to be looking to do. So, it kind of takes away all the distractions. It takes away all your worries about criticism and not doing well.
“It’s just we have a pure focus on winning.”
The Lord’s Taverners impacts the lives of young people facing the challenges of inequality. The charity works across the UK and beyond to provide inclusive and impactful cricket programmes, empowering young people with disabilities and from disadvantaged communities – visit www.lordstaverners.org