EVERY cloud has a silver lining.
Gary Ballance has experienced plenty of lows in a winter that has seen him lose his England place for the foreseeable future.
The award of the Yorkshire captaincy is thus a timely boost after he was named in succession to Andrew Gale.
Ballance’s struggles at international level have enabled Yorkshire to give him the reins.
A total of 24 runs in four innings in Bangladesh has seemingly done for the 27-year-old, who has not featured in the first four games of the ongoing five-Test series in India.
Last year, Ballance became the third-fastest England batsman to reach 1,000 Test runs, a notable achievement.
But his Test average has dropped to 39, and, like mullet hairstyles and VHS tapes, he has fallen out of fashion.
So much so that the dreaded tag “unselectable” has been stuck to him, along with England colleague Ben Duckett.
Both men serve as a stark reminder of the capricious nature of professional sport.
Unlike mullet hairstyles and VHS tapes, Ballance may come back into vogue, but will do so only through weight of runs.
For Yorkshire, that is good news in the same way that Adam Lyth faces a similar battle after losing his own Test place last year.
Those with a point to prove are prone to be dangerous and Ballance is unlikely to accept his fate lying down.
At the same time, it could be a hard road back for him in international cricket.
From Yorkshire’s perspective, Ballance was the obvious choice to replace Gale, who retired from playing last month to become first-team coach.
If fit and available, Ballance is guaranteed to play in all three formats – Championship, 50-overs and T20 – whereas other candidates such as Tim Bresnan, for example, might be rested at some stage to manage bowling workload.
On the face of it, Ballance and Gale make for a good captain/coach partnership.
Gale is a heart-on-the-sleeve merchant, a man whose outward manner betrays his inner feelings, while Ballance is cut from a different cloth.
“Gary is predominantly a quiet kind of character, but someone who’s hugely respected within the dressing room,” said director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
“He is someone who, when he speaks, people listen, that type of person.
“I think that Gary and Galey will work well together and that their characters will complement each other well.
“Gary impressed when he briefly did the job last season, and both Galey and I feel that he’s got the attributes we’re looking for – tactical nous, the respect of the players, and the ability to manage those players.”
Ballance deputised as captain for the injured Gale in the Championship game against Notts at Scarborough in August.
He scored an unbeaten hundred in the second innings as Yorkshire won by 305 runs.
Ballance previously led the club in a one-day match against Warwickshire at Scarborough in 2012, and in a game against Leeds-Bradford MCCU at Headingley in 2014.
The Harare-born left-hander has also captained the Zimbabwe franchise MidWest Rhinos.
“Gary has got a few ideas about one-day cricket, as has Galey, but I don’t think our style will change,” said Moxon.
“We will still try to be positive and win, and we know the template that works for us now, particularly in the Championship.
“Gary will have some time in Zimbabwe after the tour to India, so when he gets back over here next month, we’ll get together and have a proper discussion about the way forward.
“It’s important that Gary and Galey stamp their mark on things, but it will just be little bits of their own thinking as opposed to any big shift.”
Moxon sympathises with Ballance’s England plight and backed him to bounce back at Yorkshire.
He remains a class act in all forms of the game, averaging 47 in both first-class and List A cricket.
“Towards the end of last season, Gary made a lot of progress and was back playing to what he was capable of for us,” said Moxon.
“He got a hundred at Scarborough and was scoring runs pretty regularly, and I’ve no doubt that he will do so again.
“It’s been difficult for him lately, and he’s kind of fallen foul of the demand for change after the defeat they had in Bangladesh.
“They could have given him a couple of Tests in India, I think, but they decided to jettison Gary and also Ben Duckett.
“When you think of it logically, Gary played on two pitches in Bangladesh that were quite tricky, and he was faced with a bit of a stick-or-twist situation.
“He had to work hard not to lose his wicket because the team were under pressure when he went in, whereas if he’d gone in and tried to play shots and got out, he’d have been classed as reckless.
“As it was, he tried to battle really hard and got a couple of decent balls and got out, and therefore he’s been deemed by some to be useless. You can only feel for him, and it was disappointing for him that he didn’t get the chance to bat on pitches that were slightly better out in India.”