TWO former Colchester and East Essex cricketers are going head to head in a Test Match at Lord's - and both are wicket-keepers.

Ben Foakes has been recalled to the England starting line-up for their first Test under the captaincy of Ben Stokes.

And in the New Zealand side is Tom Blundell, who is keeping wicket for the tourists.

The duo played alongside each other at Castle Park, in the 2012-13 season in the same team as the likes of Reece Topley and Graham Napier.

Foakes, 29, who scored a magnificent century for England on his Test debut in Sri Lanka in 2018, kept wicket for Colchester as a teenager, before turning out for Essex and then joining Surrey.

The Colchester-born player had three seasons at Castle Park before playing one full season there as an adult.


Hands up - Ben Foakes in action for England in India, in 2021 Picture: AP PHOTO/AIJAZ RAHI 

Foakes finished day one of the opening Test unbeaten on six and will take to the crease with Stuart Broad this morning looking to add to England's first innings total of 116 for seven, in reply to New Zealand's total of 132.

Speaking to the Gazette in 2018, former Colchester and East Essex chairman Andrew Kennedy said Foakes was a natural.

He said: “We have been a very small part of what he has achieved – most of the benefit he’s had has been through Essex and then Surrey - but it’s great to see him do so well.

“Ben didn’t get too many chances with Essex because he had James Foster in front of him.

“He showed a lot of maturity when he was with us. He played some immensely mature innings at that age and nothing fazed him.

“Anyone that has played with Ben will know that he has the best hands that anyone has ever seen and it seemed so natural for him to catch a ball.

“We knew that he was a natural and that he had a lot of talent.

“At Colchester, he was a very friendly, down-to-earth player.

“He wasn’t arrogant in any way and it made it easy for him to be in the team.

“He was playing in the same team as adults from a young age and that background was probably beneficial in him going in with the likes of Joe Root for England."

Blundell played as Colchester’s overseas player in the Essex League in the summers of 2012 and 2013.


He played as an off spinner and a batsman at Colchester and had never previously kept wicket, prior to arriving at Colchester.

Blundell played 69 games in total, during his two seasons at Colchester.

In his time at Castle Park, he hit a total of 2,272 league runs with his biggest score coming against Shenfield in July 2012, when he hit an unbeaten 133 off 166 balls.

Blundell scored a magnificent unbeaten century on his New Zealand Test bow against West Indies in Wellington in December, 2017.

The 31-year-old has gone on to play 17 Test Matches for New Zealand, to date.

He scored 14 in New Zealand's first innings before being bowled by England debutant Matthew Potts.