NAME: Gary Simon Ballance DOB: November 22, 1989, Zimbabwe ROLE: Left-handed bat NICKNAME: Gazza DID YOU KNOW?: Gary shared a house with England team-mate Joe Root in his early days at Headingley.
Another of Yorkshire’s international contingent, Gary Ballance became the third fastest England batsman to reach 1,000 Test runs in early 2015.
Ballance, born in Zimbabwe and arrived at Headingley via Derbyshire and Harrow School, won the County Championship title in 2014 and 2015 and has captained the White Rose on occasions.
Ballance joined Derbyshire as a 16-year-old, a move facilitated by close family friend Dave Houghton, the ex-Zimbabwe wicketkeeper and experienced coach, before signing Academy terms with Yorkshire ahead of the 2008 summer.
Despite having played for Zimbabwe Under 19s at the World Cup in February 2006, the left-hander qualified for England and graduated from their Performance Programme camp to the England Lions squad, touring Australia in February.
During a superb summer of 2013 for Yorkshire and the Lions, he forced his way into the full England reckoning in both one-day and Test cricket.
He made his one-day international debut against Ireland in Malahide in early September before being picked in the Test squad for the winter Ashes series of 2013/14, debuting at Sydney as England were series losers.
Ballance strengthened his place in the Test team with some stunning performances during the home summer of against Sri Lanka and India. His maiden Test ton came against Sri Lanka at Lord’s just weeks after scoring a Championship ton at the same venue.
He played for Zimbabwe domestic side MidWest Rhinos during the winters of 2010/11 and 2011/12 under the guidance of Jason Gillespie, who would soon be his coach at Yorkshire.
He scored four first-class hundreds for them before his first for Yorkshire in 2011. In fact, 10 of his 29 first-class hundreds to date have come for the Rhinos, including a career best 210.
Ballance also starred at the Champions League T20 competition in South Africa with half-centuries against Trinidad and Tobago and Chennai Super Kings.
After playing for Zimbabwe Under 19s at the World Cup in early 2006, he debuted for Derbyshire in first-team cricket later that year. He had only just taken up a sports scholarship at Harrow.
Ballance didn’t nail down a first-team spot with Yorkshire until 2011, although scored five first-class tons for the Rhinos in 2010/11.
In 2011, he notched 10 first-class fifties for Yorkshire before scoring his first Championship century – 111 – against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in late August. He followed that with a career best 210 for the Rhinos five weeks later.
After scoring a stunning 121 not out against Gloucestershire in the Championship win at Bristol in May 2012, he posted his maiden List A century for the county – his fourth in all – against the Unicorns at Scarborough later in the month.
Having been awarded his county cap, Ballance captained Yorkshire during a CB40 match against Warwickshire in August before lighting up the Champions League in South Africa.
After touring Australia with the Lions in February and March, he returned to England to enjoy a special summer with Yorkshire.
He passed 1,000 Championship runs in a season for the first time in his career (final total 1,257), including five hundreds. Two of those came in the last match of the season against Surrey at the Oval.
Ballance also scored one-day hundreds for his county and the Lions. Unfortunately, he scored a duck on his one-day international debut against the Irish, but he was one of four Yorkshire players to travel with the 2013/14 Ashes party.
Ballance made his Test debut in the fifth Ashes Test at Sydney in January 2014 and impressed later on the same tour at Melbourne in the first Australia v England ODI, when he made 79 off 96 balls.
He scored a superb 585 runs in six Championship matches for Yorkshire on the way to the four-day title, including two hundreds.
He also scored three hundreds in seven home Tests against Sri Lanka and India, including a best of 156 against the latter at Southampton.
Ballance was named as the ICC’s Breakthrough Player of the Year in late 2014.
He made an encouraging start to 2015 on tour in the West Indies, where he passed 1,000 Test runs in only his 17th innings. He is behind only compatriots Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton on the fastest to 1,000 list.
Unfortunately, a loss of form during the early summer home series against New Zealand meant he was fighting for his Test place.
It was a battle he lost after two Ashes Tests, but returned to Yorkshire to help them retain the Championship title, scoring a big hundred in the August draw at Sussex.
He returned to England’s Test team in the early stages of the home summer of 2016 and toured Bangladesh and India later in the year.