England’s descent from world number one, to a side that couldn’t win a Test match for almost a year was softened by the arrival of Gary Ballance in the dressing room.
And the Zimbabwean-born batsman has played a pivotal role in helping Alastair Cook’s side bounce back and defeat India 3-1.
Operating at number three in the order, the left-hander offers consistency and class to the team, and is fast-becoming the perfect replacement for Jonathan Trott.
Great individual start
Despite struggling – like the rest of the England team did – against Australia in the fifth Test at Sydney in January, Ballance has had an impressive summer that has etched his
name amongst Peter Moores’ most reliable players.
A century at Lord’s in his maiden Test on English soil announced Ballance as a player for the future. The 24-year-old added to the hundred against Sri Lanka with two tons in the
After just eight Test matches, the Yorkshire batsman averages over 60 and has thus far provided a steady trickle of runs to the side at the top of the order, just as Jonathan Trott did during his international tenure.
Having been dropped in the deep end at the end of a home Ashes series, Trott’s five-day career began swimmingly. A second innings hundred at The Oval helped England to win the series over Australia for the second consecutive time on home soil.
His arrival in the national side coincided with a rise to the summit of the world rankings, as
well as three successive successful Ashes campaigns.
Whilst other batsmen had sticky periods of form at the crease, Trott was almost robotic-like with his unerring ability to find the middle of the bat and remain in the middle for long stretches of time.
However, when Trott stepped down from international duty at the end of last year, a big void was created at the top of the batting order. With Alastair Cook also struggling for form, pressure was heaped onto the shoulders of young members of the dressing room, such as Gary Ballance and Joe Root.
The two Yorkshire willow-wielders have practically cemented their respective places in the side for the foreseeable future, and are now seen as key to any future success that England experience.
Ballance’s arrival has been timely, with just three Test matches separating the Test careers of himself and Trott.
And it isn’t just the similar twang of a colonial accent that draws parallels between these two stars.
Number three in the order is an important – and difficult – place to bat. With the potential of
facing the second ball of an innings, the batsman has to be prepared to see off the new ball, as well as instigating attacks to get the scoreboard moving along nicely.
Both Ballance and Trott have proven their ability to do just that, as well as providing big
scores when they matter most.
While Ballance’s two Test tons at the home of cricket failed to provide victory against either Sri Lanka or India, his career best of 156 at the Ageas Bowl helped England achieve an impressive 266-run victory.
At the age of 33, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Trott will one day return to the international arena. The Warwickshire batsman has been gradually working his way back into the game, recently scoring a century against Durham.
If he were to return, then a great top-order partnership could be in prospect with the right-hander working in tandem with Ballance.
But even if that return is unrealistic, cricket fans are safer in the knowledge that England
will have Gary Ballance amongst their ranks when they next embark on a Test series.
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