Off-field drama has proved unhelpful – Ballance

England's Gary Ballance during a media session at Lord's Cricket Ground, London. (Picture: Simon Cooper/PA Wire)
England's Gary Ballance during a media session at Lord's Cricket Ground, London. (Picture: Simon Cooper/PA Wire)
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Yorkshire and England’s Gary Ballance has admitted recent off-field distractions have not helped as they prepare for a crucial summer of cricket.

Peter Moores was removed from his post as head coach last week, before new director of cricket Andrew Strauss appeared to rule out a return for exiled batsman Kevin Pietersen.

This has all come with England on the cusp of a daunting summer in which they face New Zealand in two Tests, starting on Thursday, before the five-match Ashes series in July.

Ballance, who was one of the players to prosper under Moores, said the side were keen to move on from a turbulent winter.

He said: “There’s a lot gone on in the last few weeks. As players we try to stay away from that and just focus on playing.

“I worked well with Mooresy, he got me into that number three (position) and helped me there.

“But it’s how sport is, we’ve got to move on from that. There’s a few changes now but we’ve got to concentrate on performing on the field and winning some games.”

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, meanwhile, says England are ready to buy into Andrew Strauss’s vision to take the national team back to No 1 in the world rankings. Buttler, speaking at Lord’s, where England began preparations under caretaker coach Paul Farbrace for the first Investec Test, said Strauss spelled out exactly why he has made his tough calls on Moores and Pietersen in his first pep talk.

“The players respected that, and it was great to hear from the man himself what his visions are,” said Buttler.

“You read things and you pick up hearsay – but to sit in a room and hear him say why these decisions have been made and what the plan is gives the players clarity.”