The Cricketer
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“EVERYTHING I HAVE FOCUSED ON IS PLAYING THAT FIRST GAME” - BEN FOAKES

“I think our chances are very good"

Ben Foakes says he is preparing himself to play at Brisbane.

However, the gloveman - who has just signed a new deal with Surrey extending his stay until 2020 - admits he is not expecting to knock Jonny Bairstow from his perch just yet.

“Obviously Jonny is world-class so I can’t go out there expecting to replace him but I’m just trying to prepare to play the first game. It is better to over prepare than under prepare. 

“Everything I have focussed on is playing that first game, but if it doesn’t happen, there are four more games where I may be called upon. I have to make sure at any stage if the team needs me I am as ready as possible.”

What does Foakes need to do to make himself England’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman?

“Everything very well to be honest, consistency, develop your game and show you can do it at international level.”

Earlier this year Alec Stewart, Surrey’s director of cricket, said Foakes is the “best wicketkeeper in the world. When reminded, Foakes modestly laughed off such a claim. 

“I saw it on Facebook… I had a few Indian fans bring up MS Dhoni! That sort of stuff is obviously lovely to hear.

“When I first came to Surrey I wasn’t keeping regularly. Stuck behind James Foster at Essex, I was never going to get above him too quickly. It was a decision I had to make and [at Surrey] I have been able to keep regularly and develop that. My main focus is red ball so to be here now I am very happy.”

While the gauntlets are Jonny’s for now, Foakes is more than useful with bat - eight first-class centuries and an average of 42.50 in the County Championship this summer the evidence.

Of course it helps when you have one of the game’s greats alongside you. Kumar Sangakkara - who hit eight hundreds and finished with an atmoshperic average of 106.50 in Surrey whites - has had an unsurprising impact on Foakes’ game.

“He’s been massive. Keeping-wise not so much, he won’t mind me saying that. He’s got some different theories on keeping. But as a batter, especially out in the middle - I have batted quite a lot with him - the amount of stuff he has taught me, during an innings, building an innings, that has been a massive help.”

England have touched down in Perth this weekend and with 25 days until the teams walk out at Brisbane, Foakes sees no reason why England cannot return home with the urn.

“I think our chances are very good. You’ve got the world-class performers that have done it year in, year out, which is fundamental to any side. I think it is about how the younger and less-experienced guys lift our games and learn from them and get everything out of ourselves.”