Ballance Surprised By Ashes Call-Up

Gary Ballance - England Lions - cricket
Gary Ballance says he was not expecting an Ashes call-up
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Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance says he was surprised by being called up to England's Ashes squad which will tour Australia this winter.

The Zimbabwean-born player has been involved in England Performance Programme squads and made 104 against the Australians while playing for the England Lions this summer.

However, he still didn't expect his name to be among the touring party.

"I wasn’t expecting it and I was surprised when I got the call," he said. "I am looking forward to it. It will be a great lifetime experience. It will be an honour to represent England at the highest level and it will be extra special in an Ashes series.

"It will be a little daunting playing with some of the best players in the world but I know that I’ll be made welcome," he added.

"I've spoken to Joe (Root), Jonny (Bairstow) and Tim (Bresnan) about the England set-up and they speak highly of the dressing room. It is very much like a club environment where everyone works hard for each other with one common goal of winning."

He is just five runs short of reaching 1,000 LV= County Championship runs this season, scoring three centuries for Yorkshire, and says his experience of the England Performance Programme will stand him in good stead.

"Being involved with the England Performance Programme and the England Lions has been beneficial. It gets you immersed in the way England prepares.

"Having toured Australia with the Lions earlier in the year, I learnt a lot about international cricket and the way the game is played out there."

And Ballance adds that he is looking forward to the challenge of touring Australia again, but this time with the full squad and the Ashes at stake.

"I expect it to be a demanding tour, with massive interest. The pitches will be quick and bouncy and there will be a lot of pressure on us to deliver. No doubt Australia will be stronger and they will want to respond after their series defeat in the summer.”

"I’m not thinking too far in advance about breaking into the team. I will work hard on my game. Develop my skills in the nets and practice and see what comes of it. There is a lot of competition for places, which is very exciting."

© Cricket World 2013

Fixtures & Results

21st-25th November: 1st Test, Gabba, Brisbane
AUS 295 & 401-7d. beat ENG 136 & 179 by 381 runs
5th-9th December: 2nd Test, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
AUS 570-9d & 132-3d beat ENG 172 & 312 by 218 runs
13th-17th December: 3rd Test, WACA, Perth
AUS 385 & 369-8 d. beat ENG 251 & 353 by 150 runs
26th-30th December: 4th Test, MCG, Melbourne
AUS 204 & 231-2 beat ENG 255 & 179 by 8 wickets
3rd-7th January: 5th Test, SCG, Sydney
AUS 326 & 274 beat ENG 155 & 166 by 281 runs