Cult Heroes: James Foster


The first of our new Cult Heroes series, supported by Allen Ford, looks at one of the Club’s best in recent times, James Foster.

Essex Career Stats (2000-2018)
First-Class Debut: 06 September 2000 v Northamptonshire
Appearances: 638
Runs: 18,231
First Class Average: 38.05
Highest Score: 212 – 2004 v Leicestershire
Centuries: 21
Fifties: 91
Catches: 1,076
Stumpings: 155
A total of 839 first-class dismissals, second to only Brian Taylor (1,231) in the Essex record books

Today, 15 April, marks the birthday of James Foster who was born in Leytonstone in 1980. A richly talented sportsman as a youngster, at one time he was faced with the dilemma of pursuing either cricket or tennis as a career.

Cricket was his choice and after progressing through the Essex youth system, he made his bow for the county in the National League match at Derby on August 13, 2000. This was soon followed with a first-class debut at Southend against Glamorgan later that month.

And from thereon, he was to become a fixture in Essex teams across all formats soon earning his county cap in 2001.

Widely acclaimed as one of the best wicket-keeper/batsman to have played county cricket, he amassed 839 first-class dismissals, second only to Brian Taylor (1,231) in the Essex record books. He skippered the county between 2010-2015 during which time he was awarded his benefit year in 2011.

His wicket-keeping ability and the continuously sustained high-standards over his career were without equal. The only surprise was that his international calls were minimal for such a superb technician where the ball seemed attracted to his gloves like metal to a magnet.

He had no equal, particularly when standing up to the stumps. Asked by the media for the umpteenth time if he knew why he was being overlooked once again from another international squad that just had been announced, he shrugged his shoulders. “The selectors must have their reasons”, he responded. That brought a reply from one well-respected hack, “It’s a pity they don’t share them with you and the rest of us, then.”

Incredibly Foster only won seven Test caps in addition to five T20 and 11 ODI appearances for England, featuring on tours of Australia, India and Sri Lanka, as well as the 2009 ICC World Twenty20.

However, England’s loss played into the hands of Essex for whom Foster played a total of 638 games across all formats, This included scoring 18,321 runs @ 33.39, with 21 centuries and the highest score of 212 against Leicestershire in 2004.

Foster was an integral part of the Club’s success during the noughties, including the Pro40 League in 2005 and 2006, Friends Provident Trophy win in 2008. Towards the end of his playing career at the Club, the icing on the cake was his role in securing the County Championship title in 2017.

“The Friends Provident Trophy triumph and the Championship title win are really special memories,” he said. “It’s a great occasion to play in a Final and win, so the euphoria of winning made it a super experience and it’s a real treasured memory- unrivalled. Then the title success in 2017 was unbelievable, another really special time.”

One of the matches on route to that 2017 triumph holds a special place in his personal memory bank.

“The win against Middlesex at Chelmsford ranks amongst the best victory that I’ve ever been involved in,” he said proudly. “Taking six wickets in the last session and the final one with only 8 balls to spare was breath-taking.

“We had to work hard throughout the Middlesex second innings but the relief when we got that tenth wicket was amazing. You could sense the tension amongst the crowd as we started to chip away at the wickets after tea and that created a brilliant atmosphere, so to get that last wicket at the death was brilliant. We had lost a day to rain earlier in the match but the euphoria at the end was something I don’t think I’d experienced before in County Cricket.

“It was also a day/night game played with a pink ball so that was different. Overall, fantastic memory and will always be my favourite victory that I’ve ever been involved in during in my career. We had a little bit of a break in our fixtures afterwards, so we had a nice time to go and celebrate that one!

In 2018, Fozzy left the club. “ It has been a real privilege to play for my home county and I am extremely proud to have represented England,” he stated.

“Thank you to all the Essex players for making it such an enjoyable changing room. What I appreciated most at the club was the way coaches, management, support staff, stewards and supporters have always made my family feel so welcome at the club, for that, I am truly grateful.

He has now carved out a successful career in coaching across the globe in major competitions such as the Big Bash and Pakistan Super League.

Cult Heroes will feature on each week, looking at those players who delighted the crowd in their own special way. Next Wednesday will be a chance to look back on the career of Stuart Law in an Essex shirt…