THURSDAY POLL: Gillespie backs Ballance to earn World Cup spot

Yorkshire and England batsman Gary Ballance is hoping to make his country's World Cup squad.
Yorkshire and England batsman Gary Ballance is hoping to make his country's World Cup squad.
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JASON GILLESPIE believes Yorkshire star Gary Ballance can force his way into England’s World Cup plans despite being overlooked for the one-day series in Sri Lanka.

The Yorkshire first-team coach admitted he was surprised that Ballance had not been chosen for the Sri Lanka series starting next month as England step up preparations for next year’s World Cup.

But Gillespie feels it is a temporary setback for the talented batsman and that there is still enough time for him to press his claims in the run-up to world cricket’s premier one-day competition.

England play a one-day tri-series against Australia and India in Australia in January/February, while England Lions tour South Africa in the New Year to afford further chances for competitive cricket.

“I’ll be honest, I was a little bit surprised that Gary wasn’t in the squad for the Sri Lanka series,” said Gillespie, who today leads his Yorkshire team to Buckingham Palace where they will be re-presented with the County Championship trophy and handed their winners’ medals by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

“But I don’t think that’s necessarily going to mean that Gary is not in the World Cup.

“He’s obviously behind a couple of players at the moment, but I’d like to think that it won’t preclude him from potentially being picked for the World Cup.

“There’ll be a chance that he could go on the Lions tour, and although that’s by and large longer-form cricket, it’s still watching and hitting a cricket ball.”

Ballance, 24, was overlooked for the seven-match Sri Lanka series in favour of Nottinghamshire’s James Taylor.

It was a close call, with Ballance averaging an impressive 51 in all one-day cricket to go with a first-class average of 55.

Ballance averages 26 in 12 one-day international appearances, however, compared with a Test average of 60 from eight appearances.

But Gillespie is confident the left-hander can become an England regular in all forms of the game.

“Gary’s shown what he can do as a Test cricketer and I’ve got no doubt that he can show what he can do as a short-form player,” he said.

“The credentials are there, and, like any player, he just needs a bit of an extended run.

“England are trying a number of combinations at the moment to see what will work but I think that, in time, it’ll become pretty clear that Gary needs to be in the one-day side.

“That’s how I look at it, and I think he’ll find himself in that side in the not-too-distant future because he’s a class player and, through sheer weight of runs, I think he’ll get back in.”

Joe Root is the only Yorkshire player selected for the Sri Lanka series, which runs from November 26 to December 16.

Like Ballance, the 23-year-old is a multi-dimensional cricketer, and he showed all his one-day attributes when he made 113 on his last ODI outing against India at Headingley last month, thus becoming the first Yorkshireman to score a one-day international century at Leeds.

“As with Gary, Joe is a very good player in all three forms of the game,” said Gillespie.

“He’s going to be involved with England for a long, long time. Joe is always striving for ways to improve and he’s a good lad, a cheeky chap.

“He’s good around the dressing room, good around the lads, and he’ll continue to find ways to better himself.”

The World Cup takes place in February and March in Australia and New Zealand, territory that former Australia fast bowler Gillespie clearly knows well.

He believes the conditions will favour the batsmen.

“The wickets will be good at that time of year, towards the end of the season, and the outfields will be parched and dry,” he said.

“The scores are going to be quite high, in my view, and what England need to do is play fearless cricket with an aggressive mindset.

“England do have an opportunity at this World Cup, make no mistake, but it’s the style of cricket they need to play that’s going to be important.

“They need to take it to the opposition and be ruthless with that, and I’ll be really interested to see how they tackle things going forward – starting with this series in Sri Lanka.”

Gillespie said the Yorkshire players/staff are relishing today’s visit to Buckingham Palace, where their Championship success will be suitably honoured.

After their audience with Prince Philip, followed by afternoon tea, Yorkshire will move on to the House of Commons for a reception organised by Selby MP Nigel Adams.

“It’s a massive reward for the club,” said Gillespie.

“To be afforded an opportunity to go to visit Buckingham Palace and the House of Commons is absolutely fantastic and a wonderful experience for all concerned.

“I’m really excited on a personal level, and I’m particularly pleased for everyone involved with the club.

“It’s a rare opportunity and a wonderful privilege, and it promises to be a memorable day.”

Yorkshire have announced that their champion county match against MCC in Abu Dhabi will take place from March 22-25.

The club will also take part in a T20 tournament against Lancashire, an MCC XI and Sussex during their trip to the Middle East.