Wicketkeeping in cricket involves a player stationed behind the stumps, tasked with catching deliveries from the bowler, stopping the ball, and effecting dismissals, primarily by catching or stumping batters. In addition to it, the players like MS Dhoni with his brilliant and unconventional wicket-keeping skills have arguably made him one of the best wicket-keepers to have ever played the game of cricket.
Citing this, in a recent interview, Alec Stewart who is the former England wicket-keeper, showered praise on Ben Foakes, highlighting his superior speed behind the stumps compared to MS Dhoni. Stewart commended Foakes' exceptional glovework in the ongoing Test series against India, drawing a comparison to the modern cricketing great. Stewart also elaborated on how Foakes was mindful of the significant amount of spin bowling he would encounter in India and the adjustments he made to his training regimen.
“He does things that no one else can do. His hand speed is second to none. MS Dhoni had quick hands but Foakes has the quickest hands in the game and the ball stays in them,” the former wicketkeeper said speaking to The Times.
That's why I was so pleased for him: Alex Stewart
The former England batter praised Foakes for adjusting his training to prepare for spin bowling in India, focusing 80% on standing-up skills. Delighted with Foakes' exceptional catches, they discussed foot positioning and technique, utilizing training aids like the Merlin spin machine. Foakes' proactive approach and clear training objectives since 2014 were noted.
The former wicketkeeper batter believed Foakes was the world's best, capable of playing 50-60 Tests under different circumstances, but team balance limited his appearances. Foakes' batting prowess was emphasized, despite fewer opportunities. Overall, Stewart's admiration for Foakes' dedication, adaptability, and skill in both keeping and batting were evident.
“He knew there would be a lot of spin bowling so it (his training) was 80-20 in favor of his standing-up stuff, which he's brilliant at anyway — the ball bouncing, the ball turning, the ball keeping low. That's why I was so pleased for him, after all the hours he's put in, and then he gets rewarded with some of the catches he took. We'd discuss the position of his feet, the height he gets, and where his hands are. He leads it. We used the Merlin spin machine, mats that spin or one with holes cut in them so that some spin and some bounce. We do it from 22 yards, or from ten or 11 yards. He knows what he wants to work on and we've done that since he joined us in 2014 from Essex,” Stewart concluded.