Ballance issues a defiant message to critics
GARY BALLANCE plans to turn a deaf ear to those critics telling him to change his technique as he battles to win back his England place.
The Yorkshire batsman says he is “not changing anything” after he was dropped for the third Ashes Test starting at Edgbaston today.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan and ex-England batsman Kevin Pietersen are among those who have highlighted flaws in Ballance’s game.
Vaughan said the player “needs to work hard on the technical side” and is “stuck on the crease”, while Pietersen said he had concerns Ballance was “going to struggle” against the Australians and that he “noticed slight issues with his technique against (Mitchell) Johnson” when batting with him in the previous Ashes campaign.
Ballance, 25, accepts that he must work hard at his game and is nowhere near the finished article.
However, he intends to stick to the method that has given him a Test average of just under 50 and which recently saw him become the third-fastest England player to 1,000 Test runs behind Herbert Sutcliffe and Len Hutton.
“A lot of people are telling me I need to change, but what I’ve had, and what I’ve got now, is how I’ve got to playing for England in the first place,” said Ballance.
“My whole career, it’s how I’ve made runs, and I don’t think a few bad games should suddenly change things, so I’m not changing anything.
“I’m obviously looking to improve still, looking at areas I can improve as a player, and hopefully I’ll keep improving and developing.”
Ballance has paid a high price for averaging 17.5 in his last 10 Test innings and been replaced by his Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow, whom he says “fully deserves his selection”.
However, Ballance’s recent record is not as poor as that of Ian Bell, who has kept his place, and the left-hander’s overall record remains strikingly good – 1,194 runs in 15 Tests at 47.76.
“When I was scoring runs, people were saying, ‘that’s a good technique’,” added Ballance.
“Suddenly, after two or three bad games for England, my technique is wrong, so I’ve just got to deal with that.
“Every cricketer has to deal with it, and it’s a shame that’s how it is sometimes.
“But I’m not bitter; I just want to look forward and try to improve as a player.”
Ballance must now effectively do what Bairstow did – force his way back through sheer weight of runs.
Bairstow responded superbly to being overlooked on the spring tour of the West Indies, scoring 980 runs in 12 County Championship innings for Yorkshire at an average of 108.88, with five hundreds and four fifties.
Ballance is now in a run of seven one-day games for Yorkshire in 11 days – continuing with today’s Royal London Cup match against Surrey at the Oval (10.30 start).
He began that sequence with an innings of 31 in the no-result against Gloucestershire at Scarborough on Sunday, and followed it with a match-winning 69 against his former club Derbyshire in a seven-run victory in Derby on Monday.
“I’ve got this run of one-day matches now with Yorkshire, and I just want to win games for the club,” said Ballance.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead as regards my own situation, and, on a personal note, it was just good to get a few runs against Derbyshire and to get a bit of form that hopefully I can take into the rest of the competition.
“It’s been a tough summer personally, but I feel I’m playing quite nicely without necessarily getting the runs on the board.
“I played well in the first Test at Cardiff and we got a win there, and we’ve played two top sides in Australia and New Zealand.”
Ballance admits he was disappointed to be left out for the third Test and there is an air of quiet defiance about him that does not bode well for county opponents in the coming days.
At the same time, he is positive about his chances of regaining his Test place and clearly in the mood to prove people wrong.
“I was obviously disappointed to miss out (on the third Test), but I’ve had a few days to think about it and I wasn’t going to mope around,” he added.
“I was just going to get over it, look forward and try my best to improve as a player.
“That’s how sport goes sometimes, how cricket goes.
“You can’t mope around and be too gutted about things.
“I’ve got an opportunity now to play some cricket for Yorkshire and to do well for them, and, if I can do that, hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”
Yorkshire squad versus Surrey (from): Ballance, Bresnan, Brooks, Carver, Fisher, Gale, Gibson, Hodd, Leaning, Lees, Maxwell, Patterson, Plunkett, Pyrah, Rhodes.