Alex Davies: Hot On The Heels Of Ben Foakes

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27th September 2017, Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester, England; Specsavers County Championship, day 3, Lancashire versus Surrey; Lancashire opener Alex Davies straight drives as Lancashire chase a target of 175 to win the match (Photo by Alan Martin/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Ben Foakes’ inclusion in the Ashes squad confirmed his place as Jonny Bairstow’s successor. The 24-year-old is widely regarded as the best gloveman in the country and a more than handy batsman. A first-class average of 41.84 is more than impressive, as is eight hundreds.

While many have known about Ben Foakes’ intended future for a couple of years now, he is not without competition. Many wished for Jos Buttler to be heading down under this winter given his freakish talent; and Ben Cox of Worcestershire is certainly making a name for himself as a gloveman.

Alex Davies was slowly making a name for himself before his 2016 season was cut short after only three matches, forced to spend the rest of the season recovering from injury. He bounced back this year in some style as the 23-year-old played every first-class match for runners-up Lancashire.

Davies was not shy about his desire to open the batting for his county prior to his injury; and nearly twelve months on the sidelines did nothing to change this. New head coach Glen Chapple made a bold decision to trust in his young wicket-keeper despite his long layoff. He was immediately repaid after Davies notched his maiden first-class century in just the second innings of the season. The wicket-keeper batsman made two more before the season was out, finishing with 916 runs at an average of 39.82, all from the top of the order.

His wicket-keeping has not suffered either – finishing the season with 48 dismissals. Only John Simpson (54) and James Foster (49) finished with more in Division One.

An England Lions call up is just reward for the 23-year-old. Although he cannot hide his delight, he admits it is just another step. ‘’Since the injury, the next step on the ladder was to perform for Lancashire, but then to achieve further honours. It’s another small step. I want to keep wicket for England, and I see the winter as a big opportunity to work hard on my keeping.’’ (http://www.lccc.co.uk/cricket/news/2017-news/davies-delight-at-england-lions-call/)

Whether Davies’ impressive first-class form was aided or not by not having to deal with the distraction of t20 cricket, we will never know. Jos Buttler’s increased availability allowed Glen Chapple to give Davies some extended recovery time given his long lay-off. The 23-year-old would have been disappointed to miss out on the t20 campaign; especially after playing an integral part in Lancashire’s winning campaign in 2015 – including a man of the match performance in the final.

Of course, with the Ashes on the horizon, the England selectors have bigger issues on their minds. A vulnerable batting line-up coupled with the exploits of Ben Stokes is definitely food for thought. Furthermore, Jonny Bairstow’s incredible form and fitness means whoever has to step into the Yorkshireman’s shoes will have to wait a long while – just ask Jack Russell.

But when the time comes, England will have a rich array of talent waiting to seize their chance.

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