Fully fit Ben Foakes left out of England XI for second Test

Ben Foakes of England pictured during a Nets Session ahead of the First Test match at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on November 28, 2022 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. - Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Ben Foakes of England pictured during a Nets Session ahead of the First Test match at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on November 28, 2022 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. - Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Ben Foakes has been left out of the team for the second Test in Multan despite Ben Stokes describing him as the “best keeper in the world” as England stick with part-time wicketkeeper Ollie Pope to maximise their bowling options.

Ben Stokes confirmed the XI on Thursday after training with Mark Wood for the injured Liam Livingstone, the only change to the side that pulled off one of England’s greatest victories in Rawalpindi.

Foakes missed the first Test when he fell ill the day before the match and Pope kept in his place for an entire red ball match for the first time in three years.

He dropped two catches but also took some two excellent chances as well as scoring a century batting at three.

His performance persuaded Stokes he can be trusted again to keep wicket and bat first drop and it has allowed them to add Wood to the XI without reducing their bowling options. If they had picked Foakes for Livingstone, England would have had to leave out another bowler to accommodate Wood.

Foakes will now be worried about his place over the long term despite Stokes assuring him this is a one off.

Harry Brook’s promise demands a run in the team after his hard-hitting performance in Rawalpindi and Jonny Bairstow has been assured he will be given his place back when he recovers from a badly broken leg.

The only way to fit both Brook and Bairstow into the top seven is for Bairstow to keep in place of Foakes, who scored his second Test hundred last summer and has been an integral part of the side under Stokes until last week.

Mark Wood of England has a practice bowl during the tea interval during the First Test Match between Pakistan and England at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan - Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Mark Wood of England has a practice bowl during the tea interval during the First Test Match between Pakistan and England at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan - Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

“The communication to Ben was that the real positive for him to take out of this selection is that it’s just for this Test match,” said Stokes.

“Foakesy still is the number one gloveman in England and I’ll still keep saying it that he’s the best keeper in the world. It must sound a bit silly to not be picking him, but you’ve got to look at the conditions we face out here. Pakistan is a very hard place to come and bowl.

“Adding Mark Wood into the side gives us the best opportunity to take 20 wickets. That’s what we came here to do, we came here to try and win games of cricket, not be concerned, especially going into this game with a 1-0 lead. We want to keep continuing to press the way that we play and we felt bringing Woody into the team was the best opportunity for us to do that out here in this specific Test match.”

Wood adds genuine pace to the attack and England believe Pakistan are vulnerable against the short ball. The pitch in Multan may turn more than Rawalpindi and England have two spinners in Jack Leach and Will Jacks in the side, but reverse swing will again be a factor, possibly a match winning one. James Anderson and Ollie Robinson recovered well from their efforts on the last day in Rawalpindi on Monday and play again.

“Having someone in your squad who can bowl 150km/h is a massive bonus for any team around the world, especially out here with Pakistan being a very hard place to come and win,” Stokes said about Wood.

“Having someone of this calibre and what he brings, the way in which he bowls, is going to be massive for us. He is going to add to our ability to take 20 wickets I think, and it’s a bit of a different story to having three low 80mph bowlers compared to Mark Wood bowling.”

England XI for second Test in Multan: Ben Duckett, Zack Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Stokes, Jacks, Robinson, Wood, Leach, Anderson.