Spotting a genuine wicketkeeper with traditional skills is a rarity these days when teams prefer batsmen who can also ‘keep’.
Ben Foakes, though, is different. He’s a genuine wicketkeeper who relishes standing up to spinners on pitches that offer turn and bounce.
And he can bat as well. Foakes lends solidity to the line-up and notched up a Test century on debut against Sri Lanka in 2018. He averages over 40 in six Tests and his first innings here, an unbeaten 42, was a fine innings of composure and footwork. If the ongoing Test is any evidence, the 28-year-old Foakes is arguably the best ’keeper in contemporary cricket. You can see it in the quality of his gathering and his technique standing up; he stays low, rises with the ball, puts his weight on the balls of his feet, is balanced as he gathers the spinning, bouncing deliveries and has the quickest hands in the Wild West.
On this vicious Chennai pitch the ball turned and jumped, yet Foakes, never losing his footing and making subtle adjustments, gathered with the ease of a natural. And what reflexes he has!
Rohit Sharma was beaten by left-arm spinner Jack Leach’s flight, turn and bounce and Foakes had the bails off in a flash to win a marginal stumping.
Then, Rishabh Pant was bamboozled by a Leach delivery that darted into him before spinning past the inside edge, and Foakes, blindsided, and collecting the ball on the leg-side, had the bails off in lightning quick time.
The stumping was high on difficulty but Foakes made it appear simple.
Earlier he had combined with Ollie Pope who unleashed a throw from short-leg for Foakes to run out Cheteshwar Pujara.
Despite a few blemishes — one of which off Ashwin proved costly — the quality of ’keeping was high.
Foakes is the real deal!