Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes would not argue if he became the fall guy for England’s dismal performance in Barbados, with places on the line for this week’s second Test.
A bruising 381-run defeat in Bridgetown stopped Joe Root’s side in their tracks after their 3-0 whitewash over Sri Lanka before Christmas, a trip which saw Foakes announce himself in style at international level.
Initially arriving as cover for the injured Jonny Bairstow, Foakes struck a stylish century on debut, showed exemplary glovework throughout and walked away as man of the series.
In normal circumstances that would be enough to buy a long, unquestioned stint in the side but the manner and scale of the loss have raised questions over the balance of the XI in Antigua.
The continued presence of Bairstow, not to mention limited-overs keeper Jos Buttler, in the top six means there are plentiful options behind the stumps and though Foakes is widely acknowledged as the best of the three, his removal would allow England to re-balance with an additional bowling option.
Whether Root and head coach Trevor Bayliss are considering that seemingly harsh course of action remains to be seen but, after contributing just seven runs in two knocks at the Kensington Oval, the Surrey man is already one step ahead of them.
“I didn’t perform last game, so I couldn’t sit there and say ‘why did you drop me?’,” he said.
“I did really well in Sri Lanka and I completely want to play the next game but we lost by 300-odd runs and if a change is needed, a change is needed.
“You can’t think ‘am I going to get picked; am I not going to get picked?’ It will drive you crazy. If I get the nod, I get the nod.
“You know you’re going to have ups and down. No-one is ever going to be perfect throughout their career or throughout a series.”
Bairstow, despite taking up the challenge of filling the problem position at number three has made no secret of the fact that he would reclaim the gloves in a heartbeat.
The Yorkshireman is fiercely proud of the improvements in his keeping in recent years and considers it part of his cricketing identity. He continues to train hard on that discipline, supporting Foakes but also pressing his own case.
“It’s a unique situation but it’s fine, there’s no awkwardness,” said Foakes.
“I didn’t think I’d be in Sri Lanka, then I thought I would have one game and then Jonny would be back. I don’t want to say I feel lucky to be here, but things have fallen into place and it’s just up to me to take the opportunity.”
The Barbados Test was Foakes’ first taste of defeat in an England shirt, as it was for Surrey team-mate Sam Curran.
After the consistent highs of Sri Lanka, it was a new and unwelcome experience.
“We were completely outplayed but it was one of those games where I felt not much went our way. It was a bit of a freakish game,” he explained.
“I’d say that, throughout the whole game, there was never a stage where that dressing room didn’t feel we could win the game. That may sound crazy if you look at the scoreboard, but there was always that determination to win. But something is not right if you’re getting beaten by that much.”News Now - Sport News