Ben Cox is relishing the chance to work with his wicket-keeping idol James Foster this summer at Blackfinch New Road – and hopes it can take his level of performance to an even higher level.
Cox has been a long-time admirer of former England keeper Foster who retired from first class cricket with Essex at the end of 2018 after 19 years at the top.
He has seized opportunities to pick his brains and in October worked one on one with Foster when playing for Boost Defenders in a T20 competition in Abu Dhabi.
Now that partnership will be reunited during this summer after Foster was recruited by the County to work with Cox, Alex Milton and Academy keeper Henry Cullen.
Cox, who celebrates his 10th anniversary this summer since making his County debut, said: “It is fantastic to have Foz (Foster) on board. He has made a huge impact on wicket-keeping as a whole in terms of the whole history of cricket really.
“You speak to anyone about who is the best keeper and nine out of 10 people will say ‘James Foster.’ The older generation might say ‘Jack Russell’ but Foz is one of the leading wicket-keepers ever.
“More importantly, to myself, I’m at an age now where I know how I work but it’s going to be fantastic having Foz on board with someone like Milts (Alex Milton) and Henry Cullen where they can pick his brains from an earlier age and make huge gains.
“Will this make me a better keeper? 100%. I’ll be more accountable for my mistakes because, like anything, when you’ve got a coach they are there to challenge you and continue to improve you.
“Foz is going to do that exactly for me. He loves my kind of training where, if I’m dropping balls then it’s hard enough practice and, if I’m not, then it’s too easy.
“Something I’m looking forward to doing with Foz is to keep challenging the base I’m at now and make myself anything like he was.”
Cox has built up a relationship with Foster ever since he took the trouble to pick his brains after a game between Worcestershire and Essex at Blackfinch New Road several years ago.
He said: “We are close without being close. There is a distance (geographically) and we don’t see each other at all really. I’d like to think there is that keeper’s respect there, that he likes the way I keep and I have the respect of the legend that is himself.
“We worked together in October in Abu Dhabi when he was coaching the Boost Defenders and I was playing which was a great experience.
“It gave me one on one time with him which is more than I’ve had previously. From that one session, I’m just excited to see what is to come. If that is what we can do in a week, what can we do in six months?”
So when did Cox first become aware of Foster’s qualities?
He said: “It would have been when I became a pro because I have no qualms in saying I wasn’t a big cricket watcher when I was at school.
“I was always down the rugby path. I didn’t know a great number of cricketers to the amusement of my team-mates as I didn’t know most of the time who I was playing against!
“But when you learn, you learn quickly. Learning about Foz and what he had done for the game, he is number one in my opinion. He earned the right to have that title.”