Foakes takes 'whirlwind' start to Test cricket in his stride

England was struggling at 103-5 until Ben Foakes led a recovery mission on the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

Ben Foakes walks off after the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka   -  Stu Forster/Getty Images

Ben Foakes said that his previous experiences of playing in Sri Lanka were crucial after he enjoyed an impressive opening day to his England Test career.

The Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman was handed the chance to make his long-awaited bow in the format in the series opener – and seized the opportunity by helping dig the tourists out of trouble.

Foakes, who was part of the touring squad for last year's Ashes in Australia, but did not feature in any of the five Tests, made an unbeaten 87 on Tuesday in Galle, steering England from 103-5 to a respectable 321-8 by the close of play.

READ: Foakes debut leads England revival in Sri Lanka Test

Yet, while a rookie in terms of the international game, the 25-year-old had toured Sri Lanka with the England Lions in the past, as well as having a spell playing club cricket in the country.

"It was quite a whirlwind. I'd been around the England Lions, then last winter [on the Ashes tour] I'd dreamed of a debut," Foakes told Sky Sports.

"With the Lions, especially out here, I think I've been here three times and I've also played club cricket out here, you then get a sense of what conditions are like, the heat and everything that comes with it. That really helped."

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"Then last winter was fantastic. The Ashes are pretty cool, aren't they? The hype and buzz around that, plus getting to know the guys beforehand, it makes it quite [a lot] easier when you come in."

Foakes had planned to enjoy a break from the game following the English domestic season, but was called up as cover to the Test squad after Jonny Bairstow suffered an ankle injury during the recent one-day series.

"I got the call after a nice month getting my head away from cricket. When Rooty [Joe Root] came to me yesterday I was pretty surprised – but over the moon," added the 25-year-old.

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With help from Jos Buttler, Sam Curran and Adil Rashid, Foakes made sure England did not totally waste the chance to bat first on a pitch he expects to deteriorate over the coming days – provided the rain stays away.

"I think it's a good day. Potentially, the fourth innings on that could be really tough. It could be a really good score in the first innings. If we can get a few more and put them under pressure in the fourth innings, it will be fantastic," he said.

"With the rain we've had in the build-up, the covers being on, it's a little wetter than they were wanting. We put them under pressure. Had we sat in [during the first session], we could easily have been 30-4 or 30-5. By putting them under pressure we made them change their game plans a little bit."