Eng­land re­call Bal­lance for South Africa opener

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Bats­man Gary Bal­lance has been give a chance to re­vive his Eng­land Test ca­reer af­ter be­ing named in the squad for next Thurs­day’s first Test against South Africa.

The Zim­babwe-born 27-year-old has bat­tled his way back into con­tention with a su­perb sea­son for York­shire in the County Cham­pi­onship af­ter be­ing dropped fol­low­ing a tor­rid series against Bangladesh last Oc­to­ber.

“Gary Bal­lance could play his first Test since Oc­to­ber,” said Eng­land na­tional se­lec­tor James Whi­taker. “He has been in fan­tas­tic touch with the bat in the Cham­pi­onship av­er­ag­ing over 100. He de­serves to be in­cluded and we feel that he will add ma­tu­rity and ex­pe­ri­ence to our mid­dle-or­der.”

Bal­lance’s county team-mate Joe Root will lead the side for the first time since re­plac­ing Alas­tair Cook as skip­per in Fe­bru­ary, al­though the Es­sex opener re­tains his place in the squad.

Se­nior bowler Stu­art Broad was in­cluded af­ter shak­ing off a heel prob­lem, while un­capped Mid­dle­sex seamer Toby Roland Jones could make his Test de­but at his home ground with Chris Woakes and Jake Ball ruled out through in­jury.

Roland-Jones, 29, made his one-day in­ter­na­tional de­but last month at Lord’s against Ire­land and is joined by Mark Wood, who earns a re­call af­ter al­most a two-year hia­tus. “There is great ex­cite­ment around the first Test of the sum­mer and with the start of a new era un­der the cap­taincy of Joe Root this is an ex­cit­ing time for English cricket,” said Whi­taker.

“Toby Roland-Jones is a player we have been mon­i­tor­ing for quite some time and de­serves his chance af­ter a strong cou­ple of sea­sons with Mid­dle­sex in red ball cricket. “He came close last year when he was named in the Test squad against Pak­istan in July. “Toby has been in good form this cam­paign and his abil­ity to seam the ball along with the fact that he can score use­ful runs down the or­der gives us a num­ber of op­tions.”

Squad:

Joe Root (capt), Moeen Ali, James An­der­son, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Gary Bal­lance, Stu­art Broad, Alas­tair Cook, Liam Daw­son, Keaton Jen­nings, Toby Roland Jones, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood. — AFP

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