By Charlie Talbot-Smith, The Cricket Paper

For the last two winters, Gary Ballance has been little more than a glorified drinks dispenser.

England have been thumped in both India and Australia over consecutive Christmases but Ballance’s name has not been called. He has had to watch on from the sidelines as the likes of Ben Duckett, Jos Buttler, James Vince and Dawid Malan have all been given a shot in England’s middle-order.

He was recalled this past summer against South Africa but then a broken finger cut short his return after only two Tests.

And after all that, you would forgive the 28-year-old some disillusionment with the powers that be.

But the left-hander – who was not picked to tour New Zealand despite averaging 97 in the warm-up games before the Ashes – remains resolute.

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