Tykes star Gary’s Ballance-ing act

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Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance has set his sights on a place in the England Test team, after being named in the Ashes squad for this winter’s series in Australia. Left-hander Ballance was a surprise pick for the series, ahead of rivals including James Taylor who already have Test match experience.

Zimbabwe-born Ballance, who played Yorkshire League cricket for Barnsley before breaking into the Yorkshire set-up, will now challenge county colleague and close friend Jonny Bairstow for the number six spot in England’s batting line up, and insists that he will not be on the plane Down Under just to make up the numbers. Ballance said: “There are plenty of guys in there already who have done well, but I’ve just got to work hard over the first month, look to carry on what I’ve done for Yorkshire and you never know.

“A lot can happen. It is a long tour, and an Ashes tour will be hard work. But I’m quite prepared to do the hard work. We’ll see where that takes me.”

Yorkshire - perhaps mindful that a good Ashes tour may rob them of Ballance’s services next season - have announced that Kane Williamson, the New Zealand batsman, will return to Headingley as an overseas player next season. Williamson signed for Yorkshire for the latter part of this season to strengthen a batting line up missing the likes of Bairstow and Sheffield’s Joe Root, who were on Ashes duty. Yorkshire, currently taking on Surrey at the Oval, have sealed second place in the County Championship.