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England to thrive under pressure, says Ballance

— 18 February 2019

Gary Ballance is expecting England to thrive under the pressure of being tagged as favourites for this summer’s one-day World Cup on home soil.

England are the number one ranked side in ODI cricket, winning 12 of their last 14 series since mid-2016.

Their only defeats have come in India and, last summer, in a solitary fixture against Scotland.

England face the West Indies in the Caribbean as their preparations increase for the late May start to the World Cup. The first of five matches is in Barbados on Wednesday (3pm UK).

Yorkshire batsman Ballance, capped 16 times by England in one-day cricket, said: “They have been playing some really good cricket for quite a few years now.

“They have a really good squad, not just a good eleven. If people are injured or are out of form, they have players who can come in and perform.

“Everyone seems to know their role, and it’s really paid off for them.

“Their balance is ideal. There’s different kinds of batters, spinners who can spin the ball both ways like Rash (Adil Rashid) and significant pace. It’s all there.

“They have players who can perform in all conditions.

“Wherever they’ve been over the last few years, they’ve performed really well, so in home conditions they would be the favourites for the World Cup.

“They have been favourites in pretty much every series for the last few years, and that seems to have brought out the best in them. I’m sure they’ll go into the World Cup with a lot of confidence.”

  • Left: Gary Ballance taking on India in 2014. Right: Paul Farbrace will join Warwickshire as Sporting Director
  • Ballance played the last of his 16 ODIs at the last World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in early 2015 when they suffered a group stage exit and were criticised for a cautious approach to their cricket.

    Peter Moores lost his job as coach, making way for Trevor Bayliss, a man with significant experience in white ball cricket. Bayliss also kept Paul Farbrace, Yorkshire’s former second-team coach, on as his assistant.

    The turnaround was pretty much instant as they beat New Zealand in a home series, with England topping 400 once and 350 twice more in a five-match series.

    They have hardly looked back.

    Ballance said: “I’m not surprised by how well they’ve done because there’s so many good players around, and I’ve played with a lot of them before.

    “Ever since the last World Cup, they’ve done brilliantly. And it’s great to see.

    “I think there’s a few reasons (for the upturn in fortunes).

    “One is that pitches for one-day cricket seem to be getting better, so scores are getting higher and higher. We’ve seen that in county cricket as well.”

    Although Ballance feels England’s Test series defeat should not impact upon this series, there is no doubt the hosts will be full of confidence.

    Captain Jason Holder is in excellent form, as is fast bowler Kemar Roach.

    Powerful duo Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis are set to open the batting.

    “We know they have some very talented players who could make it tough,” said Ballance. “But there’s too much quality within that England squad, and I think they’ll win the series.

    “There’s four guys from Yorkshire in that squad, and it’s great to have that from a county point of view.

    “Rooty (Joe Root) has just hit a bit of form now with that hundred in the last Test, and hopefully he can continue that. Rash has also shown how good he is with the white ball.”

    David Willey and Jonny Bairstow are the other White Rose stars selected.

    England face Pakistan at Emerald Headingley in their final one-day international before the World Cup on Sunday May 19. They then face Sri Lanka at the same venue in a group stage fixture on Friday June 21.