‘Faster than MS Dhoni’: Former England cricketer claims Ben Foakes to have quickest hands as wicketkeeper

The flame of England’s “Bazball” approach in Test cricket ignites enthusiasm and admiration, largely due to the daring leadership of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum. Their audacious attitude and tactics have so far paid dividends, particularly highlighted on the India tour. Amidst the team’s collective success, one player who has been drawing significant attention for his remarkable prowess is wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. Former England stalwart Alec Stewart has recently offered copious commendations for Foakes, acknowledging his extraordinary flair with the gloves.

Compounded with sheer reflex and finesse, Foakes has been declared by Stewart to possess hands quicker than any other in the game, superseding even the lightning-fast MS Dhoni, who is revered as one of the best wicketkeepers in the annals of cricket. Stewart, speaking to The Times, stated without reservation, “He does things that no one else can do. His hand speed is second to none. MS Dhoni had quick hands but he (Foakes) has the quickest hands in the game and the ball stays in them.”

The tour in India, land of spin, has seen the Surrey cricketer up against a bowling style that demands the utmost agility and precision from a wicketkeeper. Stewart, who serves as Director of Cricket at Surrey and has observed Foakes’ meticulous preparations, knows the intensity of training that has gone into honing the keeper’s skill set for such challenges. Reflecting on Foakes’ dedication, Stewart remarked on his massive natural talent coupled with a remarkable work ethic. He noted, “His attention to detail is as good as I’ve come across both when I played and since I’ve been in this role.”

Foakes’ regimen prior to the tour was tailored to prepare him for the array of spin bowling that he would encounter. Stewart pointed out his specialty in standing-up work, crucial against spinners, emphasizing the quality over the quantity of Foakes’ practice. He added, “He knew there would be a lot of spin bowling so it (his training) was 80-20 in favour 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.”

Throughout the current India tour, Ben Foakes has been a beacon of reliability and skill, oftentimes outshining his Indian counterpart KS Bharat behind the stumps. His collection of commendable catches, especially the challenging ones that stayed low during the trying conditions of the third and fourth days of the Test matches, underscores his proficiency. With the series still underway and three more matches on the horizon, the spotlight will inevitably linger on Foakes as he strives to continue his exemplary performance.

The legacy of English wicketkeeping appears to be in safe hands with Ben Foakes’ seamless combination of innate ability and dedicated training. Amidst England’s revival in the Test arena, Foakes’ individual brilliance distances him not only as a cricketer worth watching but also a keeper who could redefine the echelons of wicketkeeping agility and artistry for years to come.

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