Gary Ballance missing for Yorkshire as he battles ‘anxiety and stress’

YORKSHIRE batsman Gary Ballance is battling anxiety and stress and it is unclear when he will return to action.

Yorkshire's Gary Ballance has admitted he is struggling with anxiety and stress (Picture: SWPix.com)
Yorkshire's Gary Ballance has admitted he is struggling with anxiety and stress (Picture: SWPix.com)

The former England left-hander, who has played 23 Tests and 16 one-day internationals, is struggling with health and personal issues.

Ballance, 30, has suffered with anxiety during his career and he relinquished the Yorkshire captaincy two years ago having been forced to take a break from the sport.

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His anxiety was exacerbated by feelings of isolation caused by the coronavirus lockdown, and he has also been fighting a virus which, despite eliciting the symptoms of coronavirus, has seen him twice test negative for Covid-19.

Gary Ballance batting for Yorkshire (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Although Ballance has since returned to training and is stepping up his workload gradually, his illness left him very weak and hampered his preparations for the season that started three weeks ago.

It meant that he was not quite as fit as he would have wished and, because he did not feel well enough to play and was concerned that he might be letting others down, it only increased the anxious thoughts.

Ballance has yet to play this summer and although the club is hopeful that he may yet feature at some point during the coming weeks, it has put no timescale or pressure on a potential return. He is a highly popular and hugely respected figure at the club and a big hit too with the Yorkshire supporters, who will wish a speedy recovery to a player who has given outstanding service since making his Yorkshire debut in 2008.

In a statement, Yorkshire said: “Gary is currently managing some heightened feelings of anxiety and stress following a long period of isolation due to the Covid-19 lockdown, his own recent viral illness and other personal factors. The post-viral symptoms have affected his physical preparation for this shortened cricket season.

“He is currently unavailable for selection and we are unable to put any timescales on his return to playing at this time.

“However, Gary has increased his training volumes over the last week and is working hard both in the nets and on his general fitness.

“Gary’s health and well-being remains our priority and the club and medical staff will continue to work closely with Gary to support his return to playing as soon as possible.

“The club requests that Gary’s privacy in this matter is respected to allow him to focus on his return to cricket.

“The club will make a further announcement when Gary is ready to return to action.”

Ballance has struggled at times in the glare of the spotlight – a happy place when things are going well, but an unforgiving one for someone managing health issues. His technique was often slaughtered by pundits and former players despite a presentable Test average of 37.

The criticism affected Ballance, who kept faith with the method that has served him so well in county cricket.

His record for Yorkshire speaks for itself: 7,913 runs in 117 first-class games at an average of 47.10 with 26 centuries, and 2,853 runs in 67 one-day appearances at 53.83 with four hundreds. He has also scored 1,390 runs in 79 T20 games for the club.

One can only wish him well.

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James Mitchinson