England’s Ben Foakes and Ben Stokes turn setbacks into success

Spectacular entrance of Ben Foakes and supreme application of Ben Stokes were highlights of England’s Sri Lanka whitewash

It is hard to recall a more tranquil, stress-free or successful tour. The last time England whitewashed opponents away from home in a three-Test series was in the spring of 1963 in New Zealand, under the leadership of Ted Dexter. After a gruelling Ashes series Ken Barrington and Colin Cowdrey scored stacks of runs before Fred Trueman and Fred Titmus kept bowling out a modest Kiwi side. It was not expected to be quite so straightforward against Sri Lanka this winter.

The plaudits have been delivered quite properly: for Joe Root’s leadership, the all-round excellence of Ben Stokes, the spin triumvirate, who, though not so canny as Titmus, Ray Illingworth and their occasional ally, Barrington, 55 years ago, offered so many options, as we were constantly reminded. Ben Foakes, the man of the series, made a spectacular entry into Test cricket. Aside from winning, they all played with a smile and were sensitively managed. Even the selectors emerged with credit.

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