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Former Harrow School pupil Gary Ballance will head to head to Australia as part of England’s Ashes squad
5:56pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in Sport
Former Harrow School pupil Gary Ballance’s inclusion in England’s Ashes squad for the winter series Down Under might have surprised some, but not former captain Allan Lamb.
When England announced their 17-man touring party to Australia it was the name of Ballance that stood out, the 23-year-old getting the nod ahead of Nick Compton, Ravi Bopara and James Taylor.
Zimbabwean Ballance is uncapped at Test level and has played a solitary one-day international for England to date – going for a duck against Ireland.
However his form for Yorkshire this LV County Championship season put him on the selectors’ radar, the left-hander scoring 995 runs at an average of 52.36 ahead of the final game with Surrey.
And while he is untested in the senior side Ballance was picked for the Lions earlier this year and in the space of nine days made 104 against the touring Australians as well as 115 and 87 against Bangladesh.
Lamb knows a thing or two about what it takes to win the Ashes.
He helped England lift the urn in 1985 and 1987, and while Ballance will get on the plane fully aware that he is not first choice, the ex-batsman is adamant Yorkshire’s latest star will come good if given a chance in the side.
“Gary Ballance has been absolutely fantastic,” said Lamb. “He was really pushing and I wasn’t surprised that he got picked in the England tour party for Australia.
“From what I have seen of him I think he can go all the way to the top. He has got a good head and a good technique. He looks good enough and he is working very hard with Graham Gooch.
“I always thought there was a good chance they would take him because I thought England would be looking for the future.
“Ravi Bopara has been around for ages and unfortunately he has never quite fulfilled his potential and made the most of his talent. He’s been up and down for England over the years but he has done well with the one-dayers and I’m sure he’ll be in the one-day squad in Australia.
“You have got to take your chance at Test cricket – that is the big thing.
“Batting down the order at six you have got to get some runs when you can and he has never really taken his chance and cemented his place there so that opens the door for the likes of Ballance.”
For more information on the LV= County Championship and this year’s LV= County Championship Breakthrough Player Award, visit www.LV.com/cricket.