ENGLAND debutant Ben Foakes has described his first taste of Test cricket as a "whirlwind".

The former Frinton star was his side's unexpected saviour with the bat on day one of the first Test against Sri Lanka, helping rewrite what was threatening to become a familiar script in Galle.

He ended his first day in international cricket with a deeply assured 87 not out and dreams of a second-day century when play resumes in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

"It was a whirlwind," said Foakes, who emerged through the colts system at Frinton and is a former student at Tendring Technology College.

"I always dreamt of my debut.

"I had a lot of emotions this morning but to get out there and get off the mark eased things.

"It was a fantastic day."

The Surrey wicketkeeper, formerly with Essex, was not even in the original touring party, a late call-up as cover for the injured Jonny Bairstow.

However, having successfully persuaded the selectors he was the best gloveman for the job, he gave what would have been a resounding audition for a specialist batting spot, arriving at the crease with his side in strife at 103 for five and walking off having shepherded them to 321 for eight.

The top order had imploded during a typically frantic morning on foreign soil, several self-inflicted wounds leaving them on the verge of collapse.

But Foakes successfully rebooted the entire innings.

He batted with calm authority over 184 deliveries, blunting the Sri Lankan spinners and gently turning the tide with late assistance from Sam Curran (48).