Ben Foakes Is Facing Loneliness As Baseball’s Firestarter Returns To The Fold


It was Brendon McCullum who called to tell ben fox He lost his place in the England men’s Test team Johnny Bairstow,

Selection meeting for the Ireland Test at Lord’s – a In fact Ashes Team – The discussion was dominated by how to fit the two into an XI. Moving someone to open instead of Zak Crawley was not considered as an option. In such a situation, the selectors had only one decision to make.

As soon as McCool’s name popped up on his phone, Fox would know what was happening, even though McCool called them all. Bairstow’s impending return from a broken leg had receded into the background during the winter, notably before appearing for the Foxes at the start of the summer when the Yorkshireman requested the gloves on his competitive return. It is now decided that Bairstow will stick to No.7 and bat.

Fox was understandably upset, not least because it could mean being completely ruled out of the Ashes, a series he was desperate for. “It’s been a really exciting summer for everyone involved,” Fox said in early April during Surrey’s pre-season media day. “And hopefully it’s me!” Motivated as ever, he made his County Championship debut, scoring 76 and 103 against Lancashire.

Five weeks later, he has asked himself a few days to deal with the news. Managing director Robb Key himself is set to call Fox in the coming days and insist that this is not the end for the Surrey keeper. He will almost certainly be on the Test tour of India in early 2024.

“He’s shown he’s good enough to play at that level,” Key said Tuesday. “Ben Fox has really shown this in abundance.”

The writing was on the wall back in December. After missing the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi with illness, Foakes regained full fitness ahead of the second Test in Multan. Two days before the start, he was informed by McCullum and Ben Stokes that England would go in with an unchanged team. it meant surrey team-mates Ollie PopeAfter serving as wicket-keeper for that first match of the series, he would do so again.

With the onus of scoring quick runs and revamping their bowling options – mark wood The injured Liam Livingstone came in for – Fox was surplus to requirements. The blow was compounded when he literally had to hand over his gloves to the Pope, who had brought none on the tour. He later joked that the Pope might as well keep him.

At the time, Stokes pumped up Foakes’ tyres: “He’s still the No. 1 gloveman in England, and I’ll still say it – that he’s the best keeper in the world.” Such praise has perhaps lost meaning to Fox, given how many times he has heard it, mostly when tossed aside during a stop-start international career.

He remained in the third and final match of that Pakistan series, along with the two Tests in New Zealand, which ended in the winter. Even after that last match in wellington, which Fox nearly sealed for England when he scored 35 in a one-run loss, with McCullum lauding the impressive nature of his performance. “He has really developed as a cricketer for us in the last nine months.”

Perhaps, though, Fox was the only England player who struggled to look on the bright side after that dramatic finish in Wellington. But now, perhaps with greater clarity than ever, they are being forced to consider their costliness. Even as a player as exceptional in his field, who averaged 38.90 in nine out of 12 Tests under the new regime, an exciting batting line-up distinguished as an important facilitator for Match turning century against South Africa Last summer, there is someone else.

And yet, it’s important to put context on this most high-profile snub. Is it unfortunate? without a doubt. Inappropriate? Well, maybe not.

Fox is not just being replaced by Bairstow, but by an iteration of the Bairstow England had already dreamed of before his exploits last summer. Never mind six hundreds in 2022 before his golf accident in August, 681 runs in six home Tests at a strike rate of 96.59 was on a different level altogether.

Stokes and McCullum unleashed the beast within Bairstow, doing so by simplifying matters around them. Urging him to play his aggressive ways will make him feel a little more appreciated and a lot more loved. Importantly, don’t take it lightly. The irony of all this is apparent when assessing Fox’s situation. But there would be no baseball without Bairstow.

“The way he [Bairstow] Key said, “It epitomizes everything we were about.” And you wouldn’t have had this success without Johnny.

“What I know is last summer under Brendan and Ben, we haven’t seen a Jonny Bairstow as a batsman before. There are times when he played a certain role for us. Under Brendan and Ben, he Got the best from someone like Jonny Bairstow and I hope he continues to do the same.”

The records pertain to Bairstow’s role as keeper-batsman, which he last performed outright in 2019. All five of Bairstow’s centuries as the designated wicket-keeper have come in the first innings of matches. The conclusion is that he is most effective as a batsman when he hasn’t already kept. Given the scale of the injury to Bairstow’s left leg – his fibula was broken in three places – questions remain over his durability to marry behind stumps and in front of stumps in six Tests over 61 days.

The decision to pick Bairstow over Fox has drawn strong reactions on social media. And it’s probably down to the fact that, whatever the joy at seeing the former back in the fold, the latter being dismissed for no fault of theirs is a perceived injustice.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect from Fox’s perspective is the corruption it has put in place over the past 12 months. There were early difficulties with the No. 7 role when most of his batting had been in the top six for Surrey and previously for Essex, but he excelled far from his usual manner. “I’m not, as you would say, baseball,” he admitted earlier this summer, but that didn’t stop him from being named as one of the Wisden’s Baseball Five Cricketers of the Year,

He was also affected by the lack of a dedicated keeping coach since the start of the previous summer, but developed a more self-sufficient routine. Not only did it work for him, but he became a valuable assistant to others, not only to Pope in Pakistan, but also to Sam Billings who deputized as the Kent keeper when Fox was forced to retire due to COVID-19. He missed the India Tests during which he was contracted. Last match of the summer against New Zealand.

Hopefully all of this has made Fox strong enough to move on from this axe. The sad thing is, after finding a way to fit in and do everything that was asked of him, he finds himself on the outside once again.

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