Ben Foakes hails Ben Stokes for ‘taking the pressure off’ against South Africa | England v South Africa 2022

Ben Foakes praised Ben Stokes for taking the pressure off during their astute partnership of 173 during the second day of the second Test against South Africa, and for giving him permission to be dull. “Don’t do anything stupid,” Stokes told him as they faced down the steaming Anrich Nortje.

Both Bens carved brilliant hundreds with extra meaning as they took England from an uneasy position against South Africa to a dominant one. Stokes’s 103 was his first as Test captain and on the very day his documentary Phoenix from the Ashes was released. Foakes’s unbeaten 113 was his first Test hundred at home.

“Ben was quite clear,” said Foakes. “We can absorb as well, this is a difficult phase, let’s make it hard for them, score where you can, be busy but don’t do anything stupid.

“The opportunity to bat for a long period of time, and stay out there was fantastic and then … with the state of the game trying to extend that lead put us in a really strong position.

“That’s what you enjoy, being able to contribute to a key phase of the game, and he’s a great guy to do it with. He takes the pressure off you and when he went from 50 to 100 he kind of raced away and put it back on them and let me just bat, which was awesome. He’s got a few good things going on in his life, everyone wants a piece of him. The way he played was pretty special.”

Foakes’s fledgling Test career has been littered with bad luck and mishaps, from coming up against the brick wall of the Jonny Bairstow-Jos Buttler wicketkeeping axis, to loss of form, falling out of love with the game, slipping in the dressing room in his socks and tearing his hamstring, and catching Covid in June. His second Test hundred came nearly four years after his first – against Sri Lanka at Galle on his Test debut – but in only his 16th Test.

“There was just a sense of relief,” he said. “Since my first game I’ve found hundreds aren’t easy to come by in Test cricket so this one for me is very, very special.”

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