England have named three Yorkshire players in their Ashes squad for this winter’s series of Australia.
Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root have retained their places after being part of England’s 3-0 Ashes series victory this summer. Middle-order batsman Gary Ballance is the third player from the White Rose county to be selected after a successful season for Yorkshire in the LV= County Championship.
Ballance, 23, who was picked in England’s one-day team against Ireland earlier this month, will now get a chance to establish himself in the full England Test squad. He has had a fine season in four-day cricket, which has seen him score 1,107 first-class runs at average of 55.35, as well as a consistent record for England Lions in Australia last winter and at home against Bangladesh this summer, gave him the nod.
The Zimbabwean-born batsman began his career as a 16-year-old at Derbyshire before moving to Yorkshire in 2008. Since then he has excelled in all forms of the game, his career average of 56 in 50-over cricket one of the best in the country.
Commenting on his selection, Ballance said:
“I wasn’t expecting it and I was surprised when I got the call. I am looking forward to it. It will be a great lifetime experience. It will be an honour to represent England at the highest level and it will be extra special in an Ashes Series.
“Being involved with the England Performance Programme and the England Lions has been beneficial. It gets you immersed in the way England prepares. Having toured Australia with the Lions earlier in the year, I learnt a lot about international cricket and the way the game is played out there.”
“It will be a little daunting playing with some of the best players in the world but I know that I’ll be made welcome. I’ve spoken to Joe (Root), Jonny (Bairstow) and Tim (Bresnan) about the England set-up and they speak highly of the dressing room. It is very much like a club environment where everyone works hard for each other with one common goal of winning.
“I expect it to be a demanding tour, with massive interest. The pitches will be quick and bouncy and there will be a lot of pressure on us to deliver. No doubt Australia will be stronger and they will want to respond after their series defeat in the summer.”
Ballance, who will play for Yorkshire this week in the final Championship game of the season against Surrey at The Oval, is trying not to think too far in advance and knows that he will have to perform well to establish himself in the team.
“I still have commitments with Yorkshire this season and I’m trying to put England to the back of my mind,” added Ballance.
“I will continue to work hard on my game once I get out to Australia. Develop my skills in the nets and practice and see what comes of it. There is a lot of competition for places, which is very exciting.”
Meanwhile, Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s Director of Cricket, Martyn Moxon is delighted that the Club has been recognised in a number of selections in the England Test squad and the England Performance Programme.
“It is fantastic news for the Club to have three players selected in the England squad that will tour Australia this winter,” said Moxon.
“It is great recognition for the Club. Not only do we have three players selected in the main Ashes squad, we are also delighted that Alex Lees has made the England Performance Programme squad for their tour to Australia later in the year.”
“Jonny (Bairstow) and Joe (Root) are starting to establish themselves in the England squad after being involved throughout the summer. They are winners and enjoy the rigours of Test cricket and testing themselves against the best attacks in the world. Alongside Gary (Ballance), they will thrive in Australia and enjoy the experience of being part of an elite environment.”
Moxon also believes that Ballance is ready for the pressures of Test cricket and will relish playing at the highest level of the game.
“Gary (Ballance) has been in England’s thoughts for quite some time since his selection for the Lions earlier in the year and the opportunity he has had this summer training with the full England squad,” added Moxon.
“He is rated highly by the selectors and his selection is deserved after an excellent season in four-day cricket.
“He has been one of the standout batsmen in the Championship and will relish playing at the next level. He has the right temperament to be very successful and will thrive on the added responsibility.
“He is a great example that if you work hard on your game you can achieve anything. The hard work for him will start now but I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes part of the England set-up for many years to come.”
England Test Squad to Tour Australia:
AN Cook (capt) (Essex), JM Anderson (Lancashire), JM Bairstow (Yorkshire), GS Ballance (Yorkshire), IR Bell (Surrey), SCJ Broad (Nottinghamshire), MA Carberry (Hampshire), ST Finn (Middlesex), MS Panesar (Essex), KP Pietersen (Surrey), MJ Prior (w/k) (Sussex), WB Rankin (Warwickshire), JE Root (Yorkshire), BJ Stokes (Durham), GP Swann (Nottinghamshire), CT Tremlett (Surrey), IJL Trott (Warwickshire).
England Performance Programme Squad:
Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Danny Briggs (Hampshire), Jos Buttler (Somerset), Varun Chopra (Warwickshire), Ben Foakes (Essex), James Harris (Middlesex), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Simon Kerrigan (Lancashire), Alex Lees (Yorkshire), Tymal Mills (Essex), Jamie Overton* (Somerset), Sam Robson (Middlesex), Reece Topley (Essex), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Northamptonshire), Mark Wood* (Durham)
*To remain in the UK and specialise in strength and conditioning at Loughborough.