Essex v Glamorgan, Chelmsford, 2nd day June 2, 2014

Foster remains in mint form

Ryan Bailey in Chelmsford

Glamorgan 244 (Bragg 93, Cooke 68, Topley 6-41) and 0 for 0 trail Essex 280 (Foster 86, Pettini 51, Hogan 3-76, Wagg 3-59) by 36 runs

An abrupt swing in momentum manufactured by an innings, dare it be suggested, of international quality, from James Foster might just prove to be the decisive juncture in an otherwise tight contest as Essex and Glamorgan have fought for supremacy.

As Essex lost three for 14 after tea - slipping to 198 for 8 - they faced the proposition of surrendering a first innings deficit on the back of a limp batting performance. But, just as Glamorgan had done in the afternoon session, the home side managed to wrestle back the ascendancy through the efforts of a man who must regard his renewed mentions as a potential England wicketkeeper somewhat wryly.

That Essex found themselves with a slight advantage at the close of the second day was down to their captain. As the majority of his teammates struggled to negate a slow surface and Glamorgan's nagging attack, Foster exhibited all the qualities that have seen him talked about once more as a potential England call-up.

While his expertise behind the stumps renders such theories wholly justifiable, his batting has got better with age. Having taken a dozen deliveries to get off the mark and further time to become fully acquainted with conditions, he quickened his tempo exquisitely. Alongside Mark Pettini, the pair halted Glamorgan's post-lunch charge with a steady, if unspectacular, partnership. But when Pettini fell shortly after a half-century of his own, Foster was in danger of becoming stranded at the other end.

At that juncture, he broke the shackles and flaunted his vast array of shots. He brought up his fifty with a picture-perfect inside-out shot over extra cover and with Reece Topley battling in nothing-gets-past-me mode at the other end, the pair put on 63 for the ninth wicket which saw Essex surpass Glamorgan's first innings total of 244.

That Foster received a standing ovation from the Chelmsford faithful having attempted to hook Michael Hogan to the leg side boundary - falling fourteen runs short of a century - underlined the worth of an innings that broke the back of Glamorgan's own assault.

Had it not been for Foster's exploits, the situation could have been a whole lot different. Having learnt the lessons from a morning session during which Jesse Ryder briefly entertained with a typically aggressive cameo, Glamorgan successfully altered their line and length in conditions that aided the seamers.

Hogan produced a near unplayable delivery - one that pitched on leg, seamed and clipped the top off Ryder's off stump - after Graham Wagg had rearranged Greg Smith's furniture from around the wicket.

As Monty Panesar watched proceedings from the pavilion, despite reports he was to play for the 2nd XI today, a fellow left-arm tweaker would have given him plenty of food for thought. Dean Cosker extracted turn and bounce from Wagg's foot holes at the Hays Close End and was threatening throughout in a spell that had Pettini caught at leg slip and Tom Craddock lbw second ball. That, however, only brought Topley and Foster together to form an unlikely alliance.

With a variable forecast for the final two days, the outcome of this game may yet be decided by the weather but in Foster, the Chelmsford crowd have a messiah of their own.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dean on June 3, 2014, 20:59 GMT

    @geoffboyc, Read was given ample opportunity to build a test career a decade or so ago but his batting let him down. It can certainly be argued that he is still one of the best glove men on the county circuit but an ave of less than 19 from 23 inns & only 1 50 is simply not good enough in this day & age for a wicket keeper batting at 7. Although he's got a decent batting ave at FC level there is nothing to suggest he would do better with the bat at test level than he did before.

  • Chris on June 3, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    If England, rightly or wrongly, decide to go for a recognised keeper, what about Chris Read? Up to last season he was averaging around 50 with the bat against a higher standard of bowling bowling and he's at least the equal of Foster with the gloves. A couple of decent batting performances lately show he's in reasonable nick too. Neither move would be forward looking but might give some development time to the younger men.

  • Don on June 3, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    It's about time they picked Foster for England in fact he should have been there ages man for the job is always the way to go rather than bits & bobs cricketers behind the timbers, Prior is a 'good' keeper but not a 'great' keeper, a great keeper can pressure batsmen & win games & any runs scored are, or should be just a bonus.

  • Ray on June 3, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    @codandchips: While I agree entirely with your comments about the various individuals' WK abilities, I can't agree with you that "Foster must have a good chance of an England spot..." IMO, he is 4th (at best) in the selector's minds behind Prior, Bairstow & Buttler, which gives him little chance of playing.

    If Foster has little chance of a Test, there's not a snowball's chance in hell of Read, Bates or Davies being picked in the near future.

  • ian on June 3, 2014, 7:57 GMT

    Cod&Chips: I agree with your comment, but the tide has turned in favour of Buttler (who must have got the place eventually) being picked for Lord's. Personally, I don't think his keeping is near Test class atm, but one exceptional ODI innings has rocketed him into pole position. So, he'll have to learn on the job -- which is far from ideal -- and then, if his batting goes backwards, how has he, or anyone, benefited? Selecting JB now is a roll of the dice. I'd give him time and have Foster in the interim. What's the hurry?

  • Paulo on June 2, 2014, 19:22 GMT

    Foster must have a good chance of an England spot given Prior's injury and Bairstow and Buttler being clearly not ready as keepers or batsmen. He didn't look at all convincing with the bat at the Ageas Bowl the other night, but I'd ignore Foster's runs. Regardless he is a much better batsman than is commonly considered. Given the England selectors like batsmen, scoring runs is the only real way Foster could get a place.

    Other supremely talented glovemen we have in this country are Read and Bates. Whatever their short comings in batting is easily overcome with the gloves.

    Davies is also an excellent keeper. And he can bat. However he's given up the gloves at Surrey, so unfortunately I doubt he'll have a chance.

  • No featured comments at the moment.