England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes is maintaining his position as England’s reliable partner and is not allowing the possibility of Jonny Bairstow’s return to the squad to unsettle him.
England have now won 10 of their most recent 11 Test matches, with their only blemish since McCullum took over as coach early last year coming at the hands of South Africa at Lord’s. England will look to clinch the series against New Zealand when the second and final Test match commences in Wellington on February 25.
With bowlers like Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, and Chris Woakes vying to join the current team as the Ashes approaches, the bowling supplies are already overflowing. Nevertheless, the top seven positions present an even more difficult choice.
When he recovers from the severely broken leg he sustained at the conclusion of a career-best summer in 2022, Bairstow is essentially guaranteed a spot. However, his comeback is unlikely to come at the expense of Harry Brook, who has been a revelation since taking over at No. 5 and already seems to be a permanent fixture.
“I think my England journey has been a bit of a rollercoaster from day one. I’ve had a lot of times out of the team where I’ve thought about ‘how do I get back in?’ and things like that, and I guess thinking about those things doesn’t help my game at all,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Foakes as saying in Mount Maunganui, prior to England leaving for Wellington where the second Test begins on Friday.
“I’m not, as you’d say, Bazball. So I was kind of thinking, ‘how am I meant to go about this?’ But I think ever since I’ve come in, I think it hasn’t been that, it hasn’t been, ‘you have to try and hit every ball for six’. It’s been, ‘play your way but if you think the option is on, don’t umm and aah about it and be negative. Go for it,’ he stated.
On the prospect of losing his place to Bairstow, he said: “Naturally, you’re going to think about things. But at the stage I’m at, there’s no point stressing over it. I’m having some good form in my career and I’m just trying to enjoy that rather than stressing about what might happen.
England continue their red-hot run of form under skipper Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum’s leadership, as top knock by Harry Brook, Ben Duckett and clinical bowling by veteran pace duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad helped the side clinch their first Test win on New Zealand soil for the first time in almost 15 years, defeating Kiwis by 267 runs at Mount Maunganui on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in two-match series.
Also, Foakes missed two games in Pakistan before Christmas to help balance the team, despite Ben Stokes’ reluctance to leave out someone he has often referred to as the best gloveman in the world. Although Foakes is aware of the discussion, he has no desire to speculate on the result.
“In international cricket, you will always go through certain phases. There have been so many times have in my career when I’ve thought ‘oh that’s going to happen, that’s going to happen’ and it never has. So there’s no point in worrying about it,” he added.
It was the first time England have won a Test on New Zealand soil for almost 15 years, with their most recent triumph coming when a seven-wicket haul in the first innings from Ryan Sidebottom led Michael Vaughan’s side to victory at McLean Park in Napier in March 2008. (ANI)