ANDREW GALE has revealed that Gary Ballance is a fitness doubt for the Scarborough Festival and for England’s final Test match against South Africa.
The Yorkshire first team coach said that Ballance is still struggling with the broken finger he suffered during the second Test match at Trent Bridge.
Ballance suffered a fractured left index finger after being hit by a ball from former Yorkshire pace bowler Morne Morkel.
At the time, England said that Ballance could still be available for selection for the fourth Test at Old Trafford, which starts on August 4.
But Gale admitted that the prognosis is not encouraging, with Ballance also a doubt for the County Championship game against Essex at Scarborough that begins on August 6.
“Gary had another X-ray on Monday,” said Gale, who was speaking after his side’s NatWest T20 Blast match against Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston last night was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain.
The feedback I’m getting is a little bit negative towards him playing at Scarborough, or the fourth Test if selected. It would be a massive boost for us if he did play at Scarborough, but we’ll just have to wait and see.Yorkshire first-team coach, Andrew Gale, on fitness of captain, Gary Ballance.
“He is now due to have another X-ray on Monday.
“The feedback I’m getting is a little bit negative towards him playing at Scarborough, or the fourth Test if selected.
“It would be a massive boost for us if he did play at Scarborough, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
While Ballance recovers, Yorkshire have been performing strongly in the Blast, rising to the top of the North Group on the back of three straight wins.
They are firmly on course for the quarter-finals but cannot play a quarter-final at Headingley as the dates clash with the Headingley Test against the West Indies.
The ground will be under the control of the International Cricket Council and the England and Wales Cricket Board when the Blast quarter-finals are held from August 22-25.
Yorkshire say there would be no other option but to play an away tie, while club chairman Steve Denison has confirmed that Yorkshire are looking into the possibility of financial compensation.
“It’s frustrating from my point of view,” said Gale, “particularly given the home record we’ve got at the minute.
“Playing a home quarter-final would be an advantage, but the way that we’re playing, and the confidence that we’ve got in the group, I’d back us to beat anyone anywhere in the country.
“We’ve got to make sure that we get to the quarter-finals first, but there’s no chance of a home tie – simple as that.”
It would be a major surprise if Yorkshire failed to qualify on current form, with the club having lost only one of their eight groups games to date.
They are strongly placed despite the weather, with last night’s washout following the one at Northants earlier this month and the rain-affected tie at Lancashire.
“We seem to have all bases covered in T20,” added Gale.
“We’re playing some good cricket and we’re on a good run, but we’re also mindful of the fact that it can change very quickly.
“This latest washout is obviously frustrating as we wanted to keep playing and continue the run that we’re on.
“But the weather has played its part and there’s nothing we can do.”
Yorkshire return to action tomorrow when they play Notts at Trent Bridge (2.30pm start).
It is a rematch of their opening fixture in the competition when they won by 48 runs on the back of scoring 227-5 – their then highest T20 total before they surpassed it with 233-6 against Worcestershire last Sunday.
“It was a strong, powerful performance at Headingley when we scored well over 200 against Notts,” said Gale.
“But they’ve got a lot of firepower and we certainly can’t underestimate them.
“Notts probably haven’t fired as well in T20 as they would have liked, given that they came off the back of winning a white-ball trophy earlier in the season, but they’re a strong side.
“We have to make sure that we stick to our game-plans and stick to our guns.”
Tomorrow’s match marks the final appearance of Australian overseas player Peter Handscomb, who is leaving for a training camp ahead of his country’s tour to Bangladesh.
Handscomb is being replaced by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed for the final five group games and any knockout fixtures, with Gale confirming that Sarfraz’s paperwork has now been completed.
“He’s got his visa and is getting on a flight on Sunday,” said Gale.
“He is someone that we’ve had our eye on for a while, knowing that there might be a chance that Pete would go, and he’s an in-your-face kind of cricketer and a nice guy off the pitch too.
“He’s experienced, he’s a leader, and having leaders in the camp is always good.
“I think he’ll be a great addition.”
Yorkshire say that Ryan Gibson – the 21-year-old all-rounder – is unlikely to play for them again.
Gibson is understood to have been involved in a verbal altercation with an umpire while playing for Pudsey Congs against Farsley in the Bradford League earlier this month.
Gibson, a fringe player who has made one first-class, six List A and three T20 appearances, is out-of-contract at the end of the season.