ESSEX coach Paul Grayson admits if departing wicket-keeper Ben Foakes was his son he would have advised him to leave the club too.

England under-19 and Lions international Foakes announced last week he would be joining Surrey next season after finding his pathway to the Essex team blocked by James Foster.

The 21-year-old, who was born in Colchester and has come through the Essex ranks, was given assurances by Surrey that he would be the county’s number one wicketkeeper.

And that’s something Grayson admits Essex could not do.

“He has been told by Surrey that he will keep wicket,” said Grayson.

“It’s always tough to lose someone, especially someone who has come through the ranks like Ben, but he wants to keep wicket.

“He has run down his contract and we can’t stop him moving. We made him an offer to stay – but he is well aware where we stand with James Foster. He is the best wicket-keeper in the country and Ben is not going to play ahead of him.

“If he was my son I would have said exactly the same thing. If he wants to progress, he has to move on.

“He goes with our best wishes.”

Foakes is the second wicketkeeper Essex have brought through their ranks but been forced to let go in recent years.

Adam Wheater also left the club to join Hampshire two seasons ago where he is the first-choice man behind the stumps.

The good news for Essex is that another young star, Tom Westley, has penned a new deal.

Westley has had a breakthrough season this term and Grayson revealed he is on the radar of the England set-up.

Halstead Gazette:

Tom Westley

“I’m very happy he has signed a new contract,” said Grayson.

“He is another one who has come through the system and his form, particularly in one-day cricket, has been fantastic.

“I believe he has the drive and the shots to play at the next level. I know England have him on their radar. Whether that’s for the Lions squad this winter I don’t know.

“But if he keeps improving, he will get there.”