England wicketkeeper-batter Ben Foakes acknowledged that getting his second Test century against South Africa on day two of the ongoing second Test brought him a huge amount of relief and was overjoyed at the same time.
Foakes ended day two unbeaten on 113 and also shared a sixth-wicket stand of 173 with captain Ben Stokes (103) as England reached 415-9 declared in reply to the Proteas' score of 151 and 23-0 in nine overs of second innings.
"It was a bit of relief and I was overjoyed getting a Test hundred. I've had a bit of a wait and I realised how hard they are to come by, so I think I celebrated this one a bit more," said Foakes to Sky Sports after day two ended.
It was Foakes' first Test hundred at home, coming after making 107 on his debut against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2018. A combination of dip in form, injuries and recent Covid-19 positive result meant that Foakes, 29, had to wait for long till the Manchester Test against South Africa to register his second Test hundred and play a huge role in England being on top of a home Test.
"It's obviously a great opportunity playing for England and you want to contribute as much as possible. When you go through a lean patch, it makes it a bit more special. The whole journey makes you really value it. Having to wait and work so hard for it, days like that are amazing."
"Fairytale-wise, on debut it doesn't get much better, but you almost don't know what's to come. Getting my first ton, that's what you plan to do, but you don't have the hardship behind you. Whereas I think with all the trials and tribulations I've been through this one means a bit more."
Centuries from Foakes and Stokes meant England are still leading by 241 runs against South Africa. The wicketkeeper-batter went on to credit Stokes as well as head coach Brendon McCullum for giving the players clarity, freedom and support in England's thrilling way of playing Test cricket.
"They're just so clear in what they expect from you. They don't put too much pressure on you, they let you go and do it your way. They let you play with freedom, they're so supportive and the messages are always so clear, which really helps. It's obviously not easy and they've (South Africa) got a fantastic bowling attack. It was tough out there and the partnerships obviously put us in a good place in the game."