Nixon: Eng­land can’t for­get about Bal­lance

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL NIXON www.paulnixon­

Gary Bal­lance has started the sea­son in su­perb form and if the Eng­land Test squad for this sum­mer was an­nounced to­mor­row, he would surely be in con­tention. To have scored over 500 runs be­fore reach­ing May is a re­mark­able achieve­ment.

Of course, there is a long way to go be­fore that first Test of the sum­mer with one-day cricket now tak­ing con­trol and the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy not far off. But it’s im­por­tant that Eng­land give off a con­sis­tent mes­sage.

An­drew Strauss is a con­sis­tent bloke and a good man and the se­lec­tors will be in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Gary to let him know that he still has a chance. Some will ar­gue that hav­ing had two cracks at Test cricket, we should move on but that’s not right.You can’t just ig­nore some­one who is mak­ing that amount of runs.

Gary has an out­stand­ing record for York­shire but he got stuck in the crease a bit for Eng­land. The op­po­si­tion did their home­work on him, set their fields and he just didn’t get for­ward enough.

He’s gone away and ob­vi­ously worked hard over the win­ter hav­ing last played for Eng­land in that drawn series in Bangladesh. He’s come back and put the weight of runs in and that’s all he can con­trol now.

Eng­land will know what they are look­ing for and how they want that player to play for the Three Lions. It would show con­sis­tency and a trust in some­body to go back to play­ers they have used be­fore and they are key in­gre­di­ents in build­ing a re­laxed set-up.

Gary has been dropped when Eng­land have been poor, and while some may see him as a scape­goat, that’s not al­ways the case. If some­one is get­ting out in the same way for the ma­jor­ity of their in­nings, which Gary was with be­ing caught in the crease and not get­ting for­ward, then it’s easy to put that per­son under pres­sure.

When the whole team aren’t per­form­ing, changes have to be made. We were all will­ing Gary to get for­ward, but if there’s that flaw in a tech­nique then he’s the first on the team sheet to have a ques­tion mark next to his name.

He must have got fur­ther for­ward at the start of this sea­son to negate the swing­ing ball, which does all sorts in

You can’t just rule some­body out be­cause they’ve al­ready had a cou­ple of chances

April.Yes, you have to let the ball come to you but you have to go for­ward to it, too, and get in a good po­si­tion.

Gary would let the ball nip around and it would be too late for him to get into a po­si­tion be­fore and that’s when he faced dif­fi­cul­ties.

He got a few starts against Pak­istan and Bangladesh last year, but six games may not be enough to per­form.

You need to feel set­tled. We all go to a new job, where you might be do­ing the same work as the job be­fore, but it takes a while to feel set­tled.

We have to re­mem­ber that Bal­lance is only 27, and that’s about the age when bats­men get to their peak. Hav­ing had that break away would have helped. The same hap­pened with An­drew Strauss and he went away and worked on his ar­eas that he felt needed strength­en­ing and de­vel­op­ing.

You can’t just rule some­body out be­cause they’ve al­ready had a cou­ple of chances.

If they are the ones who are per­form­ing at the do­mes­tic level, then they have to be next in line whether it’s their first chance or fifth.

There is still a long way to go un­til that Test squad is named, though, and these first few games could be long for­got­ten. So Gary, and ev­ery other county bats­man, needs to keep go­ing and put the work in to ham­mer on that door.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Still in con­tention: Gary Bal­lance may soon be in an Eng­land team again after his runs this sea­son

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