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Gary Ballance heaps praise on Yorkshire colleague Jonny Bairstow
Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance has played down talk of a battle with county team-mate Jonny Bairstow for a place in England’s Test side to face Australia this winter.
Ballance secured his place in the 17-man squad on the back of two centuries for England Lions in August before continuing his good form on the county scene.
In stark contrast, Bairstow struggled during the summer Ashes series, scoring only one half-century before being dropped for the final Test with Chris Woakes taking his place.
The move led to speculation over the number six slot in England’s batting line-up but Ballance believes it is Bairstow’s position to lose.
“I was in the academy with him at Yorkshire for a year and we spent a lot of time together,” he said.
“He’s done well at Yorkshire and he’s done well at England, so it’s probably his spot at the moment – but he deserves it.
“I lived with him for a year. We’re good mates, so there won’t be any animosity.”
Zimbabwe-born left-hander Ballance has reaped the rewards of his decision to travel to England at the tender age of 16 in order to further his cricket career.
He turned out for Zimbabwe at under-19 level but always had his heart set on bigger things.
Ballance said: “I knew that if I wanted to play cricket that England would be the place to do it. It was in the interest of my career.
“I’d watched Ashes cricket as a youngster and I’d always dreamed of playing in that as it’s the pinnacle of Test cricket.
“As a cricketer you grow up wanting to be involved in this kind of stuff. It was just a dream to get the call and quite a shock when I found out.
“I rang my parents straight away and I told a few of the lads and they were very pleased for me.”
Ballance made his debut for England in a one-day international against Ireland earlier this month.
The 23-year-old had a match to forget as he was out for a duck but will not let his failure affect him the next time he pulls on an England shirt.
“Obviously it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but at the end of the day we won the game,” he said.
“It would have been nice to score a few runs but these things happen.
“I didn’t really want to get myself too down about it – you get these things in cricket all the time, so you’ve got to pick yourself up.
“The next step up is going to be tough but if I get the chance I like to think I’m ready. I’ve always dreamed of this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”