Pictures: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

FAMILY and friends have lavished praise on new England cricket star Ben Foakes, after the former Frinton schoolboy marked his Test debut with a century in Sri Lanka.

The Colchester-born batsman and wicketkeeper resumed on 87 not out on day two of the first Test in Galle.

And he wasted little time in bringing up three figures, reaching the stunning milestone shortly before 5am on Wednesday morning and being the last wicket to fall as England reached 342.

He was given a huge ovation as he reached his century by punching a shot straight for four.

The news was met with great pride among his family and friends.

"I’m incredibly proud of him," said brother Matt, who managed to get a last-minute flight to Sri Lanka.

"He’s had to wait a while for his opportunity so I’m so happy he’s gone out there and showed everyone what he can do at Test level.

"To start your Test career with an innings like that, given the match situation and conditions, is exceptional and it was a well-deserved century."

Matt Foakes missed day one but arrived in time for Wednesday's action.

Mum Fiona has also travelled and will be there from day three onwards.

Ben Foakes, who also played club cricket for Colchester and East Essex and Clacton, has become the second wicketkeeper to score a hundred on his England debut, the 22nd England player to score 100 against Sri Lanka and the 167th England player to score 100 in an England shirt.

To put the cherry on the cake, Foakes, 25, then took a catch from only the second ball of the Sri Lanka innings as Dimuth Karunaratne edged a delivery from Jimmy Anderson.

Halstead Gazette:

Frinton members watched through the night from their clubhouse in Ashlyns Road.

“It's unbelievable and a hugely proud time for the town and club," said committee member and stalwart Chris Armstrong.

“Ben's our favourite son and a lot of people don't appreciate that only four seasons ago, he was still playing here at Frinton.

“In between his time at Essex and Surrey, he came back and helped us secure promotion to the East Anglian Premier League.

“He's still a regular visitor, a life member and a very much part of the club's fabric.

“He's very much one of the boys here.

“This is where he learnt the basics and it must be hugely inspirational for other club cricketers out there.

“They can see the hurdles but they can also see they can be crossed.

“Ben's been absolutely phenomenal.

“It's been a spectacular debut and the champagne has been flowing here."

Foakes is a former student at Tendring Technology College and the school tweeted: "Congratulations Ben on your maiden Test century, from all at TTC.

"We are very proud to see an ex-pupil doing so well."

Halstead Gazette:

Frinton Cricket Club members gather to watch Foakes' heroics in their Ashlyns Road clubhouse.