Ben Foakes paid tribute to the batting help he has received from Surrey’s overseas star Kumar Sangakkara this season after hitting the hundred he hopes will have cemented his place in England’s Ashes tour squad this winter.
Foakes, the 24-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, is heavily tipped to be selected as Jonny Bairstow’s deputy behind the stumps for the trip to Australia – but many good judges reckon his batting skills alone are becoming good enough to warrant Test consideration.
His 110 against Yorkshire in the Specsavers County Championship match at the Kia Oval took Foakes’ four-day campaign run-tally to 602 at an average of 46.30. It was his first hundred of the championship season but he also has four scores above 50 and, in all competitions, has both batted and kept wicket to a high standard throughout the year.
What a time to get your first Champ 💯 of 2017, in some style too 👌— County Championship (@CountyChamp) September 13, 2017
Would Ben Foakes be in your Ashes squad? pic.twitter.com/3NhGo6kYKU
In the Royal London One-Day Cup, in which Foakes’s runs (and those of Sangakkara's, too) were a big part of Surrey’s run to a Lord’s final, he scored another 482 at 96.40, with six scores of 50 or more.
“Batting with Kumar has been a real privilege for me during his time at Surrey,” said Foakes, who helped Sangakkara to put on 258 for the fourth wicket against Yorkshire, with the great Sri Lankan hitting 164, his seventh championship century from 12 four-day innings in a prolific summer in which he has also made 545 runs at 77.85, with two hundreds and three fifties, in the Royal London Cup.
“The one thing above all else that Kumar has impressed upon me is that batting is largely about dealing with the ups and downs in momentum at the crease. Before, when I batted, I tended to go along at one pace, when I got in, but Kumar has underlined the need to go up and down the gears.
“For instance, you can have a burst of scoring that brings you twenty or so runs in no time at all, and then there will be a period when you don’t get any runs, but you must concentrate on getting through that and cashing in later.
“There was a stage during our stand against Yorkshire when I found myself really struggling to get the ball away, and maybe in the past I would have played a bad shot and got myself out. But, thanks to Kumar’s influence, I am now learning how to get to the stage when you can cash in.”
Meanwhile, 25-year-old left-arm spinner Freddie van den Bergh impressed on his championship debut by taking three wickets for 84 in 37 accurate overs in Yorkshire’s first innings of 394.
He said: “I’ve had to wait a while for this chance so it was extremely satisfying. I’ve been biding my time and waiting because of the strength of the squad here. I’m really glad I could take my opportunity, get some wickets and help the team. It was nice to bowl so many overs.
“I played around a bit with the pace I was bowling at. The one to Shaun Marsh drifted away nicely and Foakesy did some sharp work behind the stumps to stump him. We all bowled well, stuck to our plans and were really disciplined. It was not the sort of wicket where you could blast a team out in 20 overs.”
Surrey host Somerset at the Kia Oval in their penultimate championship fixture of the season next week, with the match starting on Tuesday. They are then away against Lancashire at Old Trafford on September 25-28 in the final week of the domestic season.