The demise of English cricket over the last 12-months has been nothing short of staggering, 10-Tests without a win, the loss of several experienced campaigners and most notably the barren run of England's leader, the foundation of many an England win, just some of the contributing factors in a home summer of depression for the loyal Barmy Army. However amongst all the criticism and soul-searching, perhaps the state of play is not as bad as we all first thought, and that England are getting close to finding the right Ballance.
Sure a run of 10-Tests without a win is inexcusable, especially considering English cricket was basking in glory at the top of the ICC rankings barely two-years ago, however it is important English fans take a rational view before getting onto Ancestry.co.uk, to see if they perhaps have any Australian or South African heritage.
Next generation has the right Ballance
Despite a dismal first half to a home summer of cricket that has seen expectations shattered, there are clear signs that the next generation are more than capable of carrying England's Test hopes into the next era.
Mitchell Johnson didn't help matters during the Ashes Series Down Under when he ripped the heart out of England's backbone, splintering the entire England squad, resulting in the departure of more than 213-Test caps, in Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen from the international scene.
Then I am convinced few batsman in world cricket would have stood up to what was one of the most sustained exhibitions of hostile fast bowling not seen since the: "the four horseman of the apocalypse," Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner terrified batsman around the world for the best part of a decade.
Out with the old and in with the new, a perfectly normal transition associated with professional sport, and it is the: "new," that has showcased the fact that there are encouraging signs for English cricket, none more so than the man that has provided England Ballance at number three.
The Zimbabwean born Gary Ballance has been nothing short of a revelation since taking over the unfamiliar position of number three for England.
The step up to Test cricket is unquestionably a tough one to make, and even more difficult to do so into a losing dressing room, which is what makes Ballance's early career achievements even more impressive.
Ballance, has plenty of that at the crease, he is controlled and technically very sound all-round the wicket, not to mention he comes from very good cricket stock after both of his uncles, Dave and William Houghton played for Zimbabwe.
Adding to this, the 24-year old has a first-class average of more than 50, clearly a very accomplished player, although it is important to mention, the bulk of those runs for Yorkshire have come from the middle order and not the number three-position he fills with such authority for England.
When you consider the fact that he has scored three-centuries and two-half centuries in only six Test matches, batting out of position at three in a losing set-up, one can only admire the guile of the left-hander and applaud the start of his Test career.
More often than not, Ballance would have walked to the crease effectively as an opening batsman, following the early loss either opener, meaning he would have had the responsibility of dealing with the new ball, something he has done to great effect.
Gary Ballance on his way to a third Test hundred
Ballance has his own method of playing, a technique that has clearly served him well at County level, and the fact that he hasn't attempted to change anything on the international stage, is a clear indication of the confidence and mental toughness of the player.
He also appears to have an additional gear to his game and is capable of accelerating the scoreboard when required, a crucial part of the winning formula of modern Test cricket.
When you take into account that to win a Test, the bowlers need enough time to take 20-wickets, having a player with the ability of accelerating the scoreboard like Ballance is capable of doing, is invaluable.
Gary Ballance has showcased everything that is required to succeed at the very highest level, however he will be very well aware the level of excellence he has set in the early part of his international career is how he will be measured in the future.
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