Monday, 23 September 2013

England Ballance Ashes Squad

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England have given Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance a surprise call-up to their Ashes squad to tour Australia this winter.

The 23-year-old left-hander, who was born in Zimbabwe, is uncapped at Test level and has only played a single one-day international for England.

Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes and ex-Ireland pace bowler Boyd Rankin, who are yet to play a Test, also make the squad, as do left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, top-order batsman Michael Carberry and seamer Chris Tremlett.

However, seamers Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions miss out on the 17-man squad, as do spinner James Tredwell and opener Nick Compton.

Bresnan is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his back and national selector Geoff Miller said: "He will travel to Australia with the squad to maximise his rehab opportunities with the medical team and coaches who will monitor his progress."

The Ashes series down under begins in Brisbane on 21 November, with the fifth and final Test starting in Sydney on 2 January.

The inclusion of Rankin, 29, and Stokes, 22, could have been anticipated as, despite their lack of experience at Test level, they both impressed for England in the recent ODI series defeat by Australia.

The height of Rankin and Tremlett also appears to have worked in their favour, with the pitches in Australia expected to offer bounce.

Panesar gets the nod ahead of Tredwell as reserve spinner behind first-choice Graeme Swann.

But Ballance has played only one ODI, which came against Ireland in September in which he was dismissed for a duck.

However, he averages 52.17 after 64 first-class matches and Miller said: "There are no left-field selections.

"He's played very well for Yorkshire so it's not a left-field selection, it's considered."

Miller added that picking Durham's Stokes was about keeping one eye on the future.

"It's not just about picking the side," he said. "You obviously pick players to win the series but we have to think about the future as well, the immediate future and a bit further on.

"He's proved over the last year or so that he's developing his game rapidly, he's an exciting prospect.

"He comes into the squad to feel the atmosphere and we know he's capable of doing a job for us in the all-rounder position."

England squad: Alastair Cook (captain), Joe Root, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, Michael Carberry, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Matt Prior (vice-captain), Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Monty Panesar, Steven Finn, Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett.

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