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Foakes serves Apprenticeship

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Ben Foakes describes a slightly different challenge that awaited the EPP

The England Performance Programme aims to take its participants out of their comfort zone, which Essex wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes experienced when he was involved in a version of the Apprentice.

The successful BBC television series sees contestants compete to go into business with multi-millionaire Lord Sugar. The EPP were spilt into teams and had three days to put together a marketing campaign to improve LV= County Championship attendance.

Foakes, James Harris, Chris Wright and Azeem Rafiq were the victors.

"It was different. To be tucked up in a suit for three days was a bit strange, but the lads put all their effort into it,” Foakes told ecb.co.uk.

"I think most days were 6:30 in the morning until about half-nine at night, working through dinner, so we got to know what the other half live like, but it was really good.”

Foakes added: “James Harris took the captaincy; I think it was always going to be him and he did a very good job. We tried to get as many kids in as possible, because we think that's the next generation. Obviously you want to have as many people playing cricket as well as attending.

“So we put a lot of camps, regimes, that sort of thing in place and then we also went down the usual route - designed a website, try to make the ECB people happy saying how good their website is, all that sort of stuff.”

At the group presentation ECB performance director David Parsons took on the role of Lord Sugar.

"I think he was a bit harsher than Alan Sugar, to be honest! He had me shaking and a few of the boys were a little bit nervous having to talk to him. He properly got stuck into us,” Foakes said.

"Victory - I think it was always going to happen. After our initial ideas and looking at a few of the other groups - they hadn't actually worked out what we had to do by day one, so I think we were front-runners from early on,” he added.

"Obviously you worked in a small group and it brought you closer to the three guys you were with, especially for me, who hadn't come across the likes of Azeem and James before. To be able to work with them for three days really brought us a lot tighter.

"This is where we feel comfortable, but to get us out of that comfort zone, having to work on something and put our minds on something for that amount of hours in a day, was challenging.”

England Performance Programme Apprentices

Essex's Foakes, second left, told ecb.co.uk: "To be tucked up in a suit for three days was a bit strange, but the lads put all their effort into it.”