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Ballance opts for England

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Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance was an unknown until this month’s Champions League cricket Twenty20 (T20) currently underway in South Africa.

By Sports Reporter

The Zimbabwe-born batsman, who recently qualified for England, was one of the few successes for the English County side in the tournament which saw them exit without recording a win.

The left-hander blasted five sixes in a superb 58 off 38 against Indian Premier League powerhouse Chennai Super Kings in Yorkshire’s final match, to propel himself onto the world stage.

However, the 22-year-old is not a newcomer to the game and is certainly not a T20 mercenary, which is such a common sight these days.

Ballance, who arrived at Yorkshire in 2007, has quietly gone about his business waiting to qualify for England.

Since breaking into the Yorkshire side in 2008, he has scored 12 centuries and 16 fifties at an average at just over 50 in both Zimbabwean and English first-class cricket.

In August, Ballance was awarded a county cap for his part in turning around Yorkshire’s fortunes this year after a dismal in the 2011 season that saw them relegated to the second tier of county cricket.

That season, Ballance – who is the nephew to ex-Zimbabwe star David Houghton – scored 862 first-class runs at 47,88, including his maiden championship century against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, despite frequent failures of other Yorkshire batsmen.

The England Cricket Board called up the prodigious talent at the first opportunity after his qualification, including Ballance, in its Performance Programme Squad this winter.

The EPP tour will run alongside the full England squad as they look to beat India for the first time since 1984.

However, if England’s front line batsmen do suffer a loss of form and injuries, one can be sure that the selectors will not think twice about calling up Gary Ballance.

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