Ben Stokes promoted Ben Foakes ahead of himself at No.7 in England’s second innings against New Zealand. Stuart Broad later revealed that there was no tactical reasoning for the change in the batting order but a forced change, with Stokes stuck in the toilet.
A surprise awaited viewers when Foakes walked out to bat after Harry Brook was dismissed for 54, with the scoreboard reading 225-5 during day three of the first Test against New Zealand. Stokes had batted above Foakes in the first innings, and is the more aggressive batter of the two. The promotion was indeed bewildering.
Stokes has scored 920 Test runs in 28 innings at an average of 35.38 and a strike rate of 72 since 2022. Foakes, on the other hand, has struck at 51 in this period. Foakes did not change his batting style on Friday, taking 80 balls for his 51 runs, slower than the 6.18 an over at which England had scored until then. Promoting Foakes, thus, seemed a strategic ploy by England, who have looked to ‘BazBall’ their way with the bat ever since Brendon McCullum took over as the head coach last summer.
However, Broad cleared the air after the day’s play, saying an untimely loo break had forced the team management to promote Foakes at No.7: “Foakesy wasn’t sent out before Stokesy in any tactical way. Stokesy just needed the toilet and it happened, in that little break, that as soon as he sat down the wicket fell.”
Stokes eventually walked out at No.8 after Joe Root’s dismissal, and scored a quick 31 in 33 with three fours and two sixes. The first of these sixes helped him go past his coach Brendon McCullum’s world record tally of 107 sixes.
England were bowled out for 374 in the second innings thanks to fifties from Joe Root (57), Harry Brook (54), and Foakes (51), and Ollie Pope’s 49. Set 394, New Zealand were reduced to 28-5 by Broad (4-21) before they finished the day on 63-5.
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