The Yorkshire captain has missed the last fortnight of cricket for what was initially described as “personal reasons”.
Neither player nor club were initially sure what the problem was and remain uncertain, save for the fact that Ballance has been experiencing fatigue-like symptoms.
But the England batsman is set to return for tomorrow’s One-Day Cup match against Leicestershire at Grace Road, although Steve Patterson will continue as captain for the rest of the competition.
Martyn Moxon, the Yorkshire director of cricket, told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s difficult to give a specific reason (for Ballance’s absence), other than the fact that he’s just felt unwell.
“It’s hard. Nobody can really define exactly what it is. He’s just not felt well. He’s been feeling tired and off it and just lifeless. There’s no kind of specific illness as such.
“But he’s had some time away and had a bit of a rest and slept better. It’s kind of like a fatigue-type thing, but there’s no terminology that we’ve been given that it’s this or it’s that. It’s basically just the way he’s been feeling.”
It is not the first time that Ballance, 28, has had such symptoms.
“Gaz had a similar thing before a few years ago when he just felt, ‘I can’t do this, I’m knackered,’ added Moxon. “It’s similar to what he had then. As I say, there’s no specific illness; it’s not like tonsillitis or something.”
Ballance has had plenty on his plate in recent times, which may or may not have contributed to the problem. He lost his Test spot once again and suffered a great deal of criticism along the way – not least from some former players who have savagely lampooned his batting technique, and from the usual trolls on social media.
These things might potentially have added up for a proud, popular and hard-working player, one who has also spent a long time away on tour.
That things were not quite right became obvious when Ballance pulled out of the County Championship match against Surrey at The Oval two weeks ago, since when he has missed half of the club’s Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.
Ballance’s return would clearly boost a Yorkshire side who have won just one of their opening four Cup matches after yesterday’s fixture against Nottinghamshire at Emerald Headingley was washed out.
Patterson, the stand-in skipper, believes that they will probably now have to win three of their remaining four games to qualify, with tomorrow’s match followed by fixtures at Derbyshire on Wednesday, Lancashire on June 5 and at home to Northamptonshire on June 7.
“With only three qualifying from each group, we probably need three or four wins from our last four games to stand a chance of going through,” said Patterson.
“It’s a tough group, and in our last couple of games we’ve just been slightly off it and been punished, and it almost makes every game now a knockout game.
“We had a great win and performance in our first match at Durham, and after a couple of defeats, we were desperate to get back out there and turn things around against Notts.
“We know that we’ve been below-par in the last couple of games. But, if we play like we did at Durham, then we’ll be ok.”
Patterson has described his time as stand-in captain as “a great honour”. Moxon and his fellow coaches felt that the pace bowler was the best man to step in at short notice, with Moxon referencing Patterson’s “excellent cricket brain”.
“Galey (first team coach Andrew Gale) basically came to me and said, ‘You’re a senior player, you know the game very well, you understand the game well, can you do it for a period of time while Gary is not around?’” said Patterson, “and I said, ‘Absolutely. No problem.’
“Although I haven’t captained before, I’d like to think that the input and support I’ve given to previous captains on the field has helped to stand me in good stead.
“Obviously, it’s a great honour for me, because it’s a club that I’ve played for since I was 15 or 16 years of age. I’d like to think that I’m a pretty logical captain and calm under pressure, although I’m probably a little bit safe and predictable at this stage compared to some captains who’ve done it for a long period of time.”
Andrew Hodd has been left out of the squad for tomorrow’s game, with Jonathan Tattersall taking the wicketkeeping gloves.
Yorkshire squad versus Leicestershire (from): Ballance, Bresnan, Brook, Carver, Coad, Fisher, Kohler-Cadmore, Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Pujara, Rashid, Tattersall.