England in West Indies: Alastair Cook says Ben Foakes has 'changed the dynamic'

England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes celebrates his maiden Test century by raising his bat and helmet in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle
England keeper Ben Foakes averages 69.25 in his three Test appearances
West Indies v England, first Test
Venue: Kensington Oval, Barbados Dates: 23-27 January
Coverage: Live text commentary and The Cricket Social on the BBC Sport website and app

England's Test team face a "balancing act" because wicketkeeper Ben Foakes has "changed the dynamic of the side", says former captain Alastair Cook.

Foakes, 25, scored a century on debut against Sri Lanka in November and impressed behind the stumps after replacing the injured Jonny Bairstow.

Bairstow, 29, returned with a ton batting at three and will play as a specialist batsman against West Indies.

"It's very hard to get the right amount of specialist batting now," said Cook.

"Foakes definitely deserves to play so it becomes a balancing act to get the team right."

England's highest Test run-scorer Cook, who retired after series victory over India in September, said Foakes' emergence means captain Joe Root cannot play four seam bowlers and two spinners in the same team, as he did last summer.

"That balance of four seamers and two spinners covers all bases in the West Indies because if the pitch turns, you'll be fine," Cook, who is part of the BBC's coverage in the West Indies, told BBC Radio 5 live.

"But Foakes coming and scoring that hundred has changed the dynamic of the side."

England face West Indies in a three-Test series and the first match in Barbados starts on Wednesday at 14:00 GMT.

Cook on Root

Cook, 34, said his successor Root has now "found his method" as captain by telling his players to be more positive in attack and defence after defeat by Pakistan in the first Test of last summer at Lord's.

"After that winter where we lost the Ashes to Australia and then lost to New Zealand, Root came home knowing how he wanted to move forward and that's exactly what he's done," he said.

"After we lost to Pakistan at Lord's, Root told us he didn't care about how long we batted for, it was about how many runs we scored and he always wanted us to take the positive option, even in defence.

"In the second Test at Headingley we were more decisive and that message has been banged in against India and Sri Lanka as well.

"He's found his method and people have responded to it."

Cook on his captaincy

Cook was appointed captain after opening partner Andrew Strauss' retirement in 2012 and led England in a record 59 Tests before he stepped down in 2017.

Yet he said it was not until after a 5-0 defeat by Australia in the 2013-14 Ashes that he knew how he wanted to lead his side.

"The first year, 18 months, you just try and find out what works for you and how to get the best out of the the players you've got," he said.

"I was just trying to be perfect in everything I did - I was really paranoid about what I said to the team, when I said it, I was writing lots of stuff down and it probably became forced.

"At the end it was far more natural and people respond when it's natural and authentic and it gave me more longevity because I wasn't so stressed."

Cook on openers

England openers Keaton Jennings (left) and Rory Burns (right) look on while waiting to bat in a warm-up game in the West Indies
Keaton Jennings (left) and Rory Burns are set to resume their opening partnership against West Indies

After Strauss' retirement, Cook had 12 different opening partners as England failed to find a settled top order.

Keaton Jennings, who opened with Cook in 12 Tests, was joined by Surrey captain Rory Burns in Sri Lanka and they had partnerships of 10, 60, 12, 22 and three in their five innings during the series, which England won 3-0.

"I like Keaton Jennings - everyone in the set-up likes him because they see a very level-headed guy who seems to take the rough with the smooth very well," said Cook.

"I played with Rory Burns for England Lions against India A and he was very unflustered - he was made captain, which surprised me, but he handled it really well.

"I was very impressed by his mental approach, it's a big thing to step up from Surrey to play representative cricket and especially after he'd been waiting a long time for his chance.

"They seem to be the stand-out pair at the moment to open the batting for England and should be given a really good run."

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