Gary Ballance has been the pick of the batsmen on show in Zimbabwe this winter. Escaping the snow in favour of warmer climes and a trip back to his roots, Gary has been opening the batting for the Mid West Rhinos franchise.
A trawl through the statistics from the 2010/11 season in Zimbabwe tell the tale of Gary’s winter. He’s scored more runs than anyone else during the time he spent in Zimbabwe (718 runs at 51.28) at the time of writing and from fewer innings than most of his nearest rivals), he’s hit more hundreds that anyone else (4) and he’s left a number of proven English county run-getters in his wake.
Gary’s first-class career average has shot up from 18.00 from 4 Yorkshire matches to 42.52 and the confidence he brings back with him to these shores can only give Martyn Moxon and Andrew Gale the sort of selection headaches they long for.
In the YCM that members will receive shortly we catch up with Gary and a lot of other familiar faces that have spent time overseas this winter.
Throughout the winter we’ve kept an eye of Gary’s progress. Here is a quick statistical review of the Mid West Rhinos matches that Gary has featured in.
MATCH 23: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY)(FEB 26-29) Mountaineers 245ao beat Mid West Rhinos 61 ?(??B?a?l?l?a?n?c?e??8??)?????&??8?8?a?o???(??B?a?l?l?a?n?c?e??1??)??b?y??a?n??i?n?n??????in?g?s??a?n?d??96 runs?
MATCH 22: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY)(FEB 20-23) Mashonaland Eagles 97ao & 198ao lost to Mid West Rhinos 365-9dec (Ballance 120) by an inninga and 70 runs
MATCH 21: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY)(FEB 14-17) Mid West Rhinos 181ao (Ballance 23) & 326-9dec (Ballance 73) beat Southern Rocks 199ao & 210ao by 98 runs
MATCH 20: METBANK PRO40 (JAN 25)
Match abandoned v Matabeleland Tuskers.
MATCH 19: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY)(JAN 20-23)
Match abandoned v Matabeleland Tuskers.
MATCH 18: METBANK PRO40 (JAN 17) Mountaineers 163ao beat Mid West Rhinos 130ao (Ballance 17) by 33 runs
MATCH 17: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY)(JAN 12-15) Mid West Rhinos 110-5 (Ballance 8)
MATCH 16: METBANK PRO40 (JAN 9) Mid West Rhinos 120-7 (Ballance 0) lost to Mashonaland Eagles 121-3 by 7 wickets.
MATCH 15: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY)(JAN 4-7) Mashonaland Eagles 319ao & 274-9dec drew with Mid West Rhinos 286-9dec (Ballance 125) & 137-3 (Ballance 32).
MATCH 14: METBANK PRO40 (DEC 16)
MATCH 13: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY)(DEC 11-14) Mid West Rhinos 459-7 (Ballance 33) beat Southern Rocks 197ao & 205ao by an inns and 57 runs.
MATCH 12: METBANK PRO40 (Nov 30) Matabeleland Tuskers 5-1
MATCH 11: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY) (Nov 25-28) Mid West Rhinos 348ao (Ballance 24) & 238-9dec (Ballance 5) beat Matabeleland Tuskers 256ao & 243ao by 87 runs.
MATCH 10: STANBIC BANK 20 SERIES FINAL (T20) (Nov 21) Mashonaland Eagles 167-7 beat Mid West Rhinos 166-6 (Ballance 20) by 1 run.
MATCH 9: STANBIC BANK 20 SERIES Semi-Final (T20) (Nov 20) Southern Rocks 151-8 lost to Mid West Rhinos 152-2 (Ballance 1) by 8 wickets.
MATCH 8: STANBIC BANK 20 SERIES (T20) (Nov 19) Mid West Rhinos 148ao (Ballance 8) beat Matabeleland Tuskers 94ao by 15 runs (D/L).
MATCH 7: STANBIC BANK 20 SERIES (T20) (Nov 17) Mid West Rhinos 174-6 (Ballance 4) lost to Mashonaland Eagles 178-7 by 3 wickets.
MATCH 6: STANBIC BANK 20 SERIES (T20) (Nov 14) Mid West Rhinos 149-6 (Ballance 30) beat Southern Rocks 138-9 by 11 runs.
MATCH 5: STANBIC BANK 20 SERIES (T20) (Nov 13) Mountaineers 191-5 beat Mid West Rhinos 156-9 (Ballance 15) by 35 runs.
MATCH 4: METBANK PRO40 (Nov 2) Mountaineers 301-7 beat Mid West Rhinos 177-6 (Ballance 24) by 43 runs (DL)
MATCH 3: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY) (Oct 28) Mid West Rhinos 460-6d (Ballance 104, Taylor 110) drew with Mountaineers 191 & 446-7
MATCH 2: METBANK PRO40 (Oct 5)
Mid West Rhinos 252-8 (Ballance 135*, Sibanda 52, Hondo 3-31) beat Mashonaland Eagles 248-5 (Masvaure 62, Zhuwawo 57, Mutizwa 50) by 2 wickets
MATCH 1?: CASTLE LOGAN CUP (4-DAY) Mid West Rhinos 351 (Nyathi 118, Mire 52, Ballance 30) and 294-4 dec (Ballance 132, Sibanda 57, Kasteni 56) drew with Mashonaland Eagles 354-8 dec (Hall 101*, Gupo 50) and 187-5 (Mutizwa 84, Muzarabani 3-33)
Gary missed Mid West Rhinos first two matches of the season due to his commitments with Yorkshire.
BALLANCE SPENDING HIS WINTER IN ZIMBABWE
Gary Ballance is spending the winter playing for Mid West Rhinos in Zimbabwe, a franchise coached by former Yorkshire player Jason Gillespie. Gary is using the winter months to get time in the middle and progress his career ahead of Yorkshire’s 2011 domestic campaign.
Gary is the nephew of David Houghton, an ex-Zimbabwean international who is playing a key role in recruiting talent to his native country to put it back on the world cricket map.
Gary said: “My uncle spoke to me a couple of months ago and asked if I wanted to go over as an overseas player. Apparently the standard of first-class cricket is really good, so I jumped at the chance. It is a good chance for me to go back and play some cricket as well as see my parents, who live over there still. This is a big chance for me to prove myself as a first-class cricket player.”
Gary continued: “I can really work on my game for five months, which has to be a good thing. Jason Gillespie is the coach of my team, and a few Zimbabwe internationals play for them too. I’m looking forward to the challenge – and, as an overseas player, I know the pressure will be on me. I played against Dizzy once – for Derbyshire – and he got me out. It will be great for me to have that Yorkshire connection. I’m very positive that I can play at this level – and, hopefully, I can show that in Zimbabwe.”
Jason Gillespie added: “Having Gary come to the Rhinos is exciting for both him and from the Rhino’s perspective also. We are excited about having a young quality batsman strengthening our top order. From the perspective of a former Yorkshire player I am delighted to be able to give Gary the chance to continue his development as a player. I will be in close contact with Yorkshire CCC to make sure that Gary’s development is continued during his time with us.”
Other English county players plying their trade in Zimbabwe this winter are Paul Franks (Nottinghamshire), Neil Carter (Warwickshire), Andrew Hall (Northamptonshire), Paul Horton (Lancashire), Nick Compton (Somerset) and Greg Smith (Derbyshire).