England survive scare in Dublin to beat Ireland by four wickets thanks to Ben Foakes and Tom Curran

3 May

England kicked off their World Cup summer with a tense victory in Ireland, as Ben Foakes overshadowed fellow debutant Jofra Archer with a match-winning turn in Malahide.

Archer was easily the most hyped of the six first-timers on show (three in each side) but while he opened his international account with a stump-toppling yorker and regularly reached 90mph, England would have been heading home defeated were it not for Foakes’ cool-headed 61 not out.

England survived a scare in Dublin against Ireland

Chasing 199, the visitors were reduced to 66 for five when the Surrey wicketkeeper calmed things down and began the painstaking process of reeling in the target and delivering a four-wicket win with three overs to spare.

Unlike Archer, Foakes’ chances of making the World Cup are slim, with the rested duo Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow untouchable among wicketkeeper-batsmen, but his contribution was easily the definitive one.

Foakes had already made a big intervention with a contentious stumping of Andrew Balbirnie that straddled a line between inspired, opportunistic and discourteous.

Nothing in the rules spoke against his belated flick of the bails as Balbirnie’s foot lifted and if anything it offered evidence of the Surrey gloveman’s razor-sharp instincts.

Eoin Morgan walks off in his home city after being dismissed

Play began two hours late due to a sodden outfield, with the contest reduced to 45 overs a side as a result. Ireland were still dismissed 11 balls ahead of time as Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran responded to Archer’s arrival by sharing seven wickets.

The pair are among the incumbents looking over the shoulder ahead but did their best to remind the selectors of their value, combining to restrict the hosts to what had seemed a gentle total.

Archer was selected for new-ball duty but failed to land a killer blow in an initial four-over burst. Paul Stirling proved a thorn in his side, taking the Sussex man for four boundaries, including a punch through point from Archer’s very first delivery.

He did not have long to wait to be involved in his first dismissal, though, stooping to catch Stirling as Curran made the breakthrough. England, and Archer, were off and running but Ireland were about to stumble from 55 without loss to 77 for four.

Jofra Archer regularly hit 90mph for England

Plunkett, whose form has been patchy of late, prised out William Porterfield and Lorcan Tucker, while Curran needed a super take from Joe Denly to see off Kevin O’Brien.

The duo would be back later to wrap the innings up, but it was Archer’s return that captured the imagination. A rapid spell, littered with zippy bouncers, a clever slower ball and, crucially, a memorable wicket.

The target would not have shaken the away dressing room but without the chutzpah of rested openers Jason Roy and Bairstow, they started sedately.

England should have been able to absorb the loss of James Vince, brilliantly caught by George Dockrell off newcomer Josh Little, but relied on one of their two most established hands, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, to do the job. Instead the pair lasted just nine balls between them.

Ben Foakes was England’s saviour on Friday

Root was pinned lbw in trademark fashion by Tim Murtagh, relentlessly accurate and searching for minor misjudgments, before Morgan bagged a three-ball duck. Little, the teenage left-armer, did brilliantly this time, digging one in short and brushing the glove as England’s Dublin-born captain found himself cramped for room.

The moment visibly energised the men in green, whose surge continued when Dawid Malan (24) became Little’s third victim. Struggling with a muscular injury and dropped once already he nibbled outside off stump and was held one-handed by keeper Gary Wilson.

Denly, earning a first one-day cap in a decade, managed a fleeting appearance before recreating Vince’s demise. There was another short ball, another full-blooded pull and another smart catch, with Boyd Rankin and O’Brien the winning combination on this occasion.

Foakes was at the crease by now and he would ultimately ride the tension to see England home.

There were scares along the way, notably when Ireland declined to review an lbw decision against him on 37. Had they done so, Murtagh would have been celebrating again.

After David Willey added 20, Curran (47 not out) joined Surrey team-mate Foakes and the pair chiselled away 98 runs between them, turning a nervy day into a safe result.

Jofra Archer set to make England ODI debut against Ireland as he looks to stake a claim for World Cup place

2 May

Jofra Archer is one of three players set to make their England one-day international debuts on Friday.

England face Ireland in Malahide as preparations for this summer’s World Cup step up.

Jofra Archer is set to make his debut for England

England captain Eoin Morgan confirmed that Archer, along with Dawid Malan and Ben Foakes, would play their first ODI.

The Barbados-born fast bowler, who has an English father and a British passport, has completed his three-year qualification period, meaning this is the first match he is eligible for.

The 23-year-old has the opportunity to stake a claim for a World Cup place but was not selected for the preliminary 15-man squad.

Eoin Morgan named the starting team

Morgan said: “He is exciting. I’ve played against him for quite a while now and everyone in this room has probably seen what he has done around the world in T20 franchise cricket.

“The attributes and skills he has shown there are good enough to play international cricket, it’s how he deals  with the pressures that come with it and how he performs.

“I’m looking forward to him making his debut, and Ben and Dawid as well.”

Foakes was called up late following Sam Billings’ shoulder injury, while Alex Hales was initially part of the squad for the trip to Ireland but was removed following his ban for recreational drug use.

Ben Duckett and Chris Jordan are the two players to miss out but are likely to get a chance in the T20 match against Pakistan on Sunday.

England name unchanged squad for three-match Test series against West Indies

10 Dec

England have named an unchanged Test squad for next month’s tour of the West Indies.

The selectors have kept faith with the 16 men who delivered a historic 3-0 whitewash in Sri Lanka, meaning the uncapped Joe Denly keeps his place and Ollie Pope misses out.

England have gone with the same formula that thrived in Sri Lanka

Denly was not required during the 3-0 win but will once again travel as batting cover for the three Tests, ahead of Pope and his overlooked county colleague Jason Roy.

Rory Burns and Ben Foakes, both of whom impressed on their Test bows in Sri Lanka, retain their place for the winter tour.

Ben Foakes was awarded Man of the Series against Sri Lanka

Wicketkeeper Foakes was a late addition in Sri Lanka after an injury to Jonny Bairstow and deservedly takes his place as a first-choice pick after collecting man-of-the-series honours at the first time of asking.

Tom Curran and David Willey return to the one-day squad for the five-match series as the countdown to next year’s World Cup continues.

England's tour of the West Indies

15-16 January: warm-up match vs WI Board XI, Barbados

17-18 January: warm-up match vs WI Board XI, Barbados

23-27 January: 1st Test, Kensington Oval, Barbados

31 January-4 February: 2nd Test, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua

9-13 February: 3rd Test, Sarren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia

17 February: ODI warm-up match vs Vice Chancellor’s XI, Barbados

20 February: 1st ODI, Kensington Oval, Barbados

22 February: 2nd ODI, Kensington Oval, Barbados

25 February: 3rd ODI, National Stadium, Grenada

27 February: 4th ODI, National Stadium, Grenada

2 March: 5th ODI, Darren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia

5 March: 1st T20, Darren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia

8 March: 2nd T20, Warner Park, St Kitts & Nevis

10 March: 3rd T20, Warner Park, St Kitts & Nevis

Mark Wood is included ahead of Olly Stone, who made his bow in Sri Lanka, while Sam Curran and Liam Dawsom are also left out.

The victory in Sri Lanka was England’s first overseas whitewash since 1963, and success in the Caribbean would be a similarly rare feat.

Ollie Pope has been left out

England have won just one Test series in the West Indies since 1968 – in 2004 when Michael Vaughan was captain.

The first Test against the West Indies begins on January 23 and you can listen to all the action from the entire series live on talkSPORT

Jos Buttler insists he has no problem with Ben Foakes keeping wicket for England: ‘I’m just happy to be in the team’

12 Nov

Jos Buttler insists he is just happy to be playing Test cricket despite being replaced as back-up wicket-keeper by the impressive Ben Foakes.

In the absence of the injured Jonny Bairstow, Foakes donned the gloves instead of England’s original number-two Buttler for the first Test in Sri Lanka.

Ben Foakes debuted behind the stumps in Galle instead of Jos Buttler

And Foakes, widely regarded as the best wicket-keeper in the country, seized his opportunity by hitting a debut century in the first innings as the tourists cruised to a 211-run win in Galle

With so much time spent stood up to the stumps on the dry Sri Lankan surface, Buttler was selected as a batsman only, but the 28-year-old has no complaints.

He said: “[I’m] not too bothered, really. Of course, knowing that Ben Foakes was coming over, he’s a fantastic wicket-keeper, he’s been on the last winter tours as the back-up keeper.

“I wasn’t too disappointed with that. I haven’t been wicket-keeping since I’ve come back into the Test side.

“But on a personal level, it’s probably just a reminder of the level I need to get to if I am going to be the number-two wicket-keeper and also just for me looking at my game as a whole.

“It’s just a good reminder that someone like Foakes, who is a fantastic wicket-keeper and probably rightly talked about as the best gloveman in the country, he’s the level that myself and other players around the country need to aspire to get to.”

Buttler was controversially recalled to England’s Test side in the summer, with many writing him off as a white-ball specialist unable to adapt to the game’s longer format.

However, his inclusion has proved a masterstroke, and he admits his rapid rise to Test stardom has taken him by surprise.

“I’m just happy to be in the team,” Buttler added. “A very short while ago, Test cricket was a mile away for me.

“So I’m just delighted to be in the team and I’m really enjoying the role I’ve got in the side at the moment.”

The second Test against Sri Lanka gets underway in Pallekele on Wednesday and you can listen to exclusive radio commentary live on talkSPORT

Sri Lanka vs England first Test, day two: Tourists in control after dream day for debutant Ben Foakes

7 Nov

Ben Foakes’ dream debut and a ruthless display of spin bowling put England in full control on day two of the second Test in Galle.

The tourists batted at the start and the end of the day – all out for 342 then 38 without loss at stumps – and in between rolled Sri Lanka over for 203 in just 68 overs.

Ben Foakes celebrates his maiden century for England

With a lead of 177 and three days to go, a first English victory at this famed Sri Lankan stronghold is well within sight.

Foakes started the day by putting the finishing touches to a classy maiden century and was last man out for 107 after adding 20 his overnight score.

He then gave a taste of the wicketkeeping skills which earned him his call-up in the first-place.

Dimuth Karunaratne allowed the Surrey man to open his international account after just two balls in the field, feeling for James Anderson’s outswinger, and later he produced a highly accomplished stumping to break Sri Lanka’s best partnership of the day.

There was one more chance to impress and he duly took it, pouching a thick edge safely standing up to the stumps in the midst of a Sri Lankan collapse which saw them cough up a potentially match-defining first-innings deficit.

Foakes impressed with the bat and the gloves on day two in Galle

There is a potentially ticklish dilemma coming for the selectors, with Foakes giving every impression of being undroppable and previous incumbent Jonny Bairstow recovering fast from his ankle injury.

To focus solely on Foakes’ contributions would be to do a major disservice to the England attack, though, and particularly their trio of tweakers.

Sri Lanka are used to bundling visiting teams out with spin in Galle but here they were the prey, losing eight wickets to the turning ball. Moeen Ali led the way with four for 66 while Adil Rashid and Jack Leach took two apiece.

With Anderson and Sam Curran removing one opener each with the fleeting swing offered by the new ball, things were going close to plan in the field.

All that was needed to put a ribbon on the day was for Keaton Jennings and Rory Burns, fit after a blow to the back of the neck fielding at short leg, to negotiate 12 overs before stumps and they did so with minimal fuss.

Jimmy Anderson celebrates after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka batsman Dimuth Karunaratne

Play began with England 321 for eight and several thousand sets of fingers crossed that Leach and Anderson could linger long enough to see Foakes from 87 to 100.

He promptly stroked the first ball of the day for four and was five short of his landmark when Leach nicked Dilruwan Perera to slip. A nervy moment, perhaps, but one Foakes banished with two more boundaries, pulling Suranga Lakmal to fine leg then punching back down the ground to celebrate in style.

He was gone moments later but had already inked his name into the record books as England’s 20th debut centurion and just the second wicketkeeper, following Matt Prior in 2007.

The Sri Lanka innings was topped and tailed with a cluster of wickets, 42 for four in 19 overs before lunch and 67 for five in the 19 overs after tea.

England celebrate after the dismissal of Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal

What happened in the afternoon session was a cool-headed aberration as both Dinesh Chandimal (33) and Angelo Mathews (52) knuckled down. Only Foakes’ stumping of the former prevented England going wicketless for two hours.

Either side they batted raggedly. Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva both failed to see the shine off the ball, after which it was spin all the way.

Leach’s nagging discipline earned him the scalps of Kusal Mendis and Perera, while Rashid was used more sparingly on his way to two for 30.

Moeen reaped the biggest rewards, though, bowling Dhananjaya de Silva on the sweep and getting the key scalp of Mathews with the first ball after tea.

By now in a groove, he tempted Niroshan Dickwella and Akila Dananjaya to give up catches in successive overs.