Ben Foakes is willing to consider all options to reclaim the England place he lost during an eventful winter as the Ashes loom on the horizon.
Foakes was on holiday when he was called up to deputise for the injured Jonny Bairstow for last year’s Sri Lanka tour and he celebrated his long-awaited debut by finishing up as the player of the series.
The 26-year-old was subsequently jettisoned for the final Test against the West Indies, however, as England reverted to Bairstow at wicketkeeper and dropped the Yorkshireman back down the order.
Alec Stewart, Foakes’ director of cricket at Surrey, describes the selection as a “very strange decision” and believes he has the ability to bat as high as three.
A meeting with national selector Ed Smith next week should offer greater clarity on where he stands and while Foakes feels he was axed too soon in the West Indies, he knows he can keep pressing his claim by compiling runs for his county.
“If you get to play for England you get to play for England, you don’t mind where you do it,” Foakes told Press Association Sport.
“I’ll ask Ed Smith if there’s any way of me getting back into the team and what’s the best way of doing that is. I want to play – so if that means I need to open the bowling then…..
“It was an amazing winter for me personally. I was finally fulfilling my dream of playing for England. Obviously I’m not old old, but it had been a long time coming for me.
“I played for the Lions for six years, so to finally step up to the England team was quite a surreal feeling. Getting that taste was amazing and it leaves you wanting more.
“But in international cricket you have your ups and downs. That’s something I’ll have to accept and try to learn from.
“When I was picked, I didn’t expect to do as well as I did in Sri Lanka and my situation, it would be fair to say I excepted a little bit longer.
“But it’s international cricket and people make decisions for a reason. I didn’t get enough runs in the West Indies, I got dropped and there’s nothing I can do about it.
“I need to focus on Surrey because I felt for three years that I’d done pretty well but wasn’t really getting a look in.
“And then just before Sri Lanka I’d given up all hope of playing for England, but then got in.
“There are so many external factors that you can’t control, so all I can do is try to make runs for Surrey, take my catches and just perform. You have to keep ploughing on.”
Stewart, himself a former England wicketkeeper-batsman, believes Foakes would be an asset to the national team beyond his expertise with the gloves.
“Ben is good enough to play as a batsman as well, we’ve seen that,” Stewart said.
“Don’t just think of him as the best keeper in the world – people raised their eyebrows when I said that and now they’ve seen that he is – but he’s a top line batter as well and that’s another way he can get into the team.
“If Bairstow has a loss of form or is injured, make sure he’s the next person in, but if there are batting slots up for grabs then make sure you’re also in the mix for that. He could easily have batted three in that last Test.”