Fighting Foakes saves England | cricketnetwork.com

Fighting Foakes saves England

06 November 2018
MATCH REPORT

Playing in just his first match, the Surrey gloveman rescued England after a shaky start

Sri Lanka v England Test - Men's, First Test

SL
ENG

England's Ben Foakes made a memorable debut to help the tourists recover from a terrible start and reach 8-321 on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

With England reeling at 2-10 and then 5-103, even the 200-mark looked difficult but Foakes forged 50-plus stands with Jos Buttler and Sam Curran to drag them back into the contest.

Foakes, replacing the injured Jonny Bairstow in the side, was batting 87 not out at stumps.

Jack Leach was on 14 at the other end after quite a turnaround by the tourists in the last two sessions.

When asked about the situation of the game when he came to the crease, Foakes said: "All I was thinking was to grind in and just make it hard for them to get me out basically.

"I think (given) the state of the game I had to nudge and nurdle, which is my game. And then as it got a little bit drier it got a little bit easier to score a few runs."

England had earlier made an unconvincing start to life following the retirement of stalwart Alastair Cook after captain Joe Root opted to bat first to avoid the prospect of having the final innings at a famously spin-friendly venue.

It was the early pace of Suranga Lakmal, however, that undid the top order of a side playing their first Test since Cook retired in September.

Opener Rory Burns (nine) disappointed on his debut and Moeen Ali failed to justify his promotion to No.3 as Lakmal claimed two wickets in two balls.

Root denied Lakmal a hat-trick and started the rebuilding job, initially at a run-a-ball, with Keaton Jennings.

Sri Lanka wasted both their reviews inside 12 overs, but it was the golden arm of retiring 40-year-old Rangana Herath that ended Root's 62-run stand with Jennings.

Herath, given a guard-of-honour by his teammates ahead of his 93rd and final Test, yorked an advancing Root to claim his 100th wicket at the venue where he made his test debut in 1999.

Dilruwan Perera (4-70) dismissed Jennings for 46 and Ben Stokes for seven in his second spell, clean bowling both left-handers.

Bruce French presented Foakes with his maiden Test cap // Getty
Bruce French presented Foakes with his maiden Test cap // Getty

Buttler and Foakes sensibly abandoned the ultra-aggressive batting which had cost England dear in the morning session and combined in a 61-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Even after Perera dismissed Buttler for 38, Foakes raised 88 runs with Curran, who hit three sixes before falling for 48, while Adil Rashid contributed a quickfire 35 down the order.

Foakes said his experiences in Sri Lanka with England's second-string Lions helped his understanding of the conditions.

"I think with the Lions I've been out here three times and I've also played club cricket out here," he said.

"So you get a real sense of how conditions are and the heat and all that sort of stuff that comes with it. I think that really helped."