Ballance excited by Test call
Yorkshire's Gary Ballance did not expect to be part of England's Ashes squad but believes he is well prepared for the world of Test cricket.
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The uncapped 23-year-old Yorkshire batsman earned a spot on the plane to Australia as cover for the middle order, presumably having edged Nottinghamshire's James Taylor in the final analysis.
Ballance, Zimbabwe born and nephew to their former captain David Houghton, admitted he had not anticipated a call from national selector Geoff Miller.
But, having progressed through England's performance programme and the second-string Lions side as well as making his one-day international debut against Ireland this month, he has no concerns about feeling out of place.
"I wasn't expecting it and I was surprised when I got the call," he said.
"I am looking forward to it. It will be a great lifetime experience. It will be an honour to represent England at the highest level and it will be extra special in an Ashes Series.
"It will be a little daunting playing with some of the best players in the world but I know that I'll be made welcome. I've spoken to (Yorkshire team-mates) Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan about the England set-up and they speak highly of the dressing room.
"It is very much like a club environment where everyone works hard for each other with one common goal of winning.
"Being involved with the England performance programme and the England Lions has been beneficial. It gets you immersed in the way England prepares. Having toured Australia with the Lions earlier in the year, I learnt a lot about international cricket and the way the game is played out there."
At present Ballance would be considered an outsider for selection in the Test side, though pecking orders can change over the course of a tour and Bairstow is far from secure at number six.
"I'm not thinking too far in advance about breaking into the team," he added.
"I will work hard on my game, develop my skills in the nets and practice and see what comes of it. There is a lot of competition for places, which is very exciting.
"I expect it to be a demanding tour, with massive interest."
Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon believes was less taken aback by Ballance's selection than the player himself, having taken note of England's interest over the past year.
"Gary has been in England's thoughts for quite some time since his selection for the Lions earlier in the year and the opportunity he has had this summer training with the full England squad," said Moxon.
"He is rated highly by the selectors and his selection is deserved after an excellent season in four-day cricket.
"He has been one of the standout batsmen in the Championship and will relish playing at the next level. He has the right temperament to be very successful and will thrive on the added responsibility."
Gary Ballance factfile:
1989: Born November 22 in Harare, Zimbabwe.
2006: Signs for Derbyshire.
August 6 - Scores 48 on his List A debut against West Indies A.
2007: Joins Yorkshire on an academy contract.
2008: July 11 - Makes his first-class debut against Kent at Canterbury but is dismissed for one and five.
2009: Earns his Yorkshire second XI cap.
2011: September - Scores his maiden County Championship century, 111 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Makes 717 runs at 42.17 despite Yorkshire's relegation to Division Two of the the County Championship, adding 331 at 55.16 in the Clydesdale Bank 40.
October: Hits a career-best 210 for Mid-West Rhinos against Southern Rocks in Zimbabwe's Castle Logan Cup.
2012: May 12 - Makes an unbeaten 121 as Yorkshire chase down 400 to beat Gloucestershire, rounding off the chase with a four and two sixes off spinner Ed Young.
Makes 613 runs at 40.86 as Yorkshire are promoted back to Championship Division One and 469 at 58.62 in the CB40. Awarded his Yorkshire county cap.
October - Makes two half-centuries in Yorkshire's Champions League t20 campaign.
2013: February - Earns first England Lions selection.
August - Playing for England Lions, hits 104 against the touring Australians and 115 and 87 against Bangladesh A in a nine-day period.
September 3 - Makes England debut in one-day international against Ireland but is dismissed for a second-ball duck.
September 23 - Named in England's squad for winter Ashes Tour of Australia.