Gary Ballance has already thrown his name into the hat for England selection in an exclusive interview with GiveMeSport after starting the 2014 season with a century.
The 24-year-old reached three figures in Yorkshire’s opening first-class fixture of the season, against Leeds / Bradford MCCU at Headingley last week. His hundred was his first red-ball innings since his Test debut in the final game of the Ashes in Australia and will be hoping to continue his position in the middle-order for his country.
His county could only manage a draw in a weather affected game in Leeds but it was a few days to remember for Ballance after he captained the white rose county in a first-class game for the first time in his career.
That accolade came after a strong 2013 campaign with Yorkshire earned him a spot in the Ashes touring party but he had to wait patiently for a debut which was an unforgiving task, going into the fifth and final match hoping to avoid an Ashes whitewash. That was something he and his teammates were unable to avoid with Ballance scoring 18 and seven in his two innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Four months on from England’s last Test Match a number of places in the team up for grabs and the man who filled the number five position at the SCG cannot wait to get the County Championship season up and running.
“It is always nice to get back to Headingley, it was obviously a tough winter but it was a great experience in Australia and I got to work hard over there and then I went over to Sri Lanka for a few weeks with Yorkshire.
“Now I’m home it is good to get ready for the new county season and everybody here at Yorkshire are looking forward to," Ballance exclusively told GiveMeSport.
“The circumstances of my debut weren’t great but still being able to get my Test debut in an Ashes match against Australia was a very proud moment for me.
“It was very special going out to field on that first day and batting at the SCG against one of the best attacks in the world at the moment so it was great and hopefully I can keep improving and it would be nice to get another opportunity.”
The former Derbyshire man has certainly started the season in a positive fashion and with Yorkshire heavily fancied to lift the LV= County Championship Division One for the first time in more than a decade he has been pleased with the preparation so far.
“The game against Leeds / Bradford Uni was a great opportunity to get some cricket outdoors after a pretty wet few months where the boys have been indoors all the time. It was nice to get that opportunity and good to get some runs and get into some form leading into the season.
“A few guys got hundreds then the bowlers got some overs under their belts so if we can keep building towards the start of the season," Ballance enthusiastically told GiveMeSport.
“I really enjoyed captaining the boys too, I have captained a few times in my career, especially when I was in Zimbabwe so to be able to captain Yorkshire in a first class game was a great experience.
“In a few years’ time if I get the opportunity it would be nice to captain again.”
The three-day game was a good exercise for Yorkshire with Jonny Bairstow and opener Adam Lyth also reaching three figures in Ballance’s debut in his role as skipper in a first-class game. Regular captain Andrew Gale is expected to be back for Yorkshire’s opening County Championship game against Somerset on Sunday.
That means the 2013 Division One top scorer will captain his side at Wantage Road in the three game match that commences on Tuesday which Ballance sees as ideal preparation for the new campaign.
“We start a week later than a few teams but the game tomorrow against Northampton is a great opportunity to get some more runs and for bowlers to get some more overs under their belt in the lead up to that first game at Somerset on Sunday.”