Confident Ballance ready to cement place in future plans

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GARY BALLANCE believes a strong showing in England’s one-day series in Australia could help him become part of English cricket’s brave new world.

England team director Andy Flower has admitted English cricket faces a new era after the humiliating 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

With places up for grabs ahead of next summer’s Tests against Sri Lanka and India, Ballance feels he could cement his spot if he can continue to progress on the current tour.

Speaking ahead of this morning’s second one-day international against Australia in Brisbane, the Yorkshire star said the ODI series could strengthen his claims.

“Definitely,” he said. “I’ve had my first few games for England now and I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

“I feel a little bit more comfortable now. There are a lot of good players around so I have to keep working hard to try to make a place my own.”

Ballance took a big step in that direction when he top-scored with 79 in the first one-day international in Sydney. The performance of the 24-year-old left-hander was one of the few highlights of England’s six-wicket defeat.

Ballance followed up with 56 against a Prime Minister’s XI in Canberra on Tuesday and was one of the few England batsmen in form heading into today’s game at the Gabba, for which Australia pace bowler Mitchell Johnson was set to return.

“I feel good,” added Ballance. “I’ve spent a bit of time in the middle, got a decent score in the first game and then managed to get another fifty.

“I’m trying to take each game at a time, get myself in and get some runs.”

Meanwhile, discarded Steven Finn has confessed that working on his bowling action has felt like “banging his head against a brick wall”.

The Middlesex pace man, who is returning home early from the Australia tour due to technical problems with his action, admitted it had been a frustrating time.

“At times, it’s felt like I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall,” said Finn, who did not play any part in the Ashes.

“I’ve worked very hard on this tour; I’ve put in lots and lots of hours of work to try to make my bowling action right, and I arrived on the tour very confident that I could play a full part in the Ashes series.

“But, as the series went on, and as we moved into the one-day leg of the tour, it became clear that there are a couple of technical issues that I need to address.

“It’s close to clicking – it’s not far away – and I actually don’t think it’s going to take too much to get me back to where I want to be.”

George Bailey believes Australia should take some pride in England’s rate of attrition during their forgettable tour Down Under.

Finn’s early departure comes after Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann were both unable to see out the tour.

Trott’s early exit, with a stress-related illness after the first Test, was universally met with understanding while Swann retired after the Ashes were lost in Perth.

With the reputations of other England stars such as Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior and James Anderson also at their lowest point in recent memory – and captain Alastair Cook under fire – Bailey was asked how he viewed the growing list of England players absent from the tour.

He said: “I take a little bit of pride in it. I guess in those terms that we are making it so uncomfortable for guys, whether that’s through form or fitness. The shoe is on the other foot – we’ve been in that situation before and know how challenging it is.”