ANTHONY McGRATH is backing shunned England duo Adam Lyth and Gary Ballance to dust themselves down and propel themselves back into the international reckoning next year.
The Yorkshire pair currently have a watching perspective of England’s tour of Pakistan in the UAE, with both missing out on places in the 16-man squad, seemingly the main fall guys of a summer which saw the Ashes regained in a see-saw series with Australia.
Lyth was omitted in favour of Alex Hales, paying the price for a poor return of runs in the 3-2 win, with the Whitby-born left-hander managing just 112 runs in nine innings at an average of 12.77 – after hitting 1,500 runs in Yorkshire’s 2014 title crusade.
After a haul of 331 runs in three Tests in the West Indies in April and May when he became England’s third fastest batsman to 1,000 runs, Ballance was dropped after an indifferent start to the Ashes summer.
But McGrath, who in his mentor role has spoken to both players at length, is confident that they will return to the England equation in time.
He said: “Unfortunately, it did not work out for them both. But the Ashes was a tough series and not a lot of batsmen got a lot of runs.
“I think Gary was very unlucky to get left out in my view, given his record.
“It was also a shame for Adam, who looked comfortable at the crease without going on to make that big score.
“But without a doubt, they will be back. This winter is just about reflection for them and making sure they have got a good rest.
“When they come back in with Yorkshire after Christmas, they will be looking forward. They are both quality players and I am sure that they will score heaps of runs next summer.”
Just as Lyth and Ballance had, at times, sobering summers, so another Yorkshire player in Adil Rashid is now under the international spotlight after claiming the unenviable record of the worst-ever bowling figures for a Test debutant – after his return of 0-163 in the first innings of England’s first Test at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
But McGrath for one says that Rashid possesses the steely character to get back on track, with the figures skewed by a lamentable surface.
McGrath, capped four times by England, said: “Watching the pictures in Abu Dhabi, it was not the best place for spinners to bowl. What spinners need are a little bit more pace and bounce in the pitch. And there has been neither of those.
“But Adil definitely has an inner steel. You must have that being a leg-spinner as it doesn’t go right all the time.”