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Ballance adds to England's Zimbabwe harvest

Gary Ballance, a young left-hander with a Zimbabwean lilt could be asked to solve one of England's more enduring problems: the No. 6 Test spot.

Alan Gardner

September 24, 2013

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Gary Ballance celebrates his hundred, Yorkshire v Warwickshire, County Championship, Division One, Headingley, 1st day, August 2, 2013
Gary Ballance is the latest candidate for England's problematic No 6 spot © Getty Images
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English cricket has a lot to thank Zimbabwe for. The two coaches most responsible for transforming England into one of the best teams in the world over the last decade and a half, Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower, hardened their characters and honed their philosophies in southern Africa and now another young leftie with a Zimbabwean lilt could be asked to solve one of the more enduring problems within the current set-up: the No. 6 Test spot.

Gary Ballance, of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Mid West Rhinos and, some years ago, Zimbabwe Under-19s, was the Ashes bolter who caught the eye when England's squad to tour Australia was announced. A powerful batsman, the 23-year-old has been capped once by his adoptive country - making a two-ball duck in the ODI against Ireland earlier this month - having qualified through residency, and could become England's first Test debutant in Australia since the Lancashire wicketkeeper, Warren Hegg, in 1998.

It is often said that a strong Yorkshire makes for a strong England, and Ballance played a full part in the county's tilt at the title this year, scoring 995 Championship runs so far as they secured second. He may not have mastered the accent but Ballance will happily band together with his friends, team-mates and fellow tourists, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, in England's young Yorkie club.

"I've played at Yorkshire for four to five years, I don't think you get more English than that," was his unequivocal response to being asked about his allegiances. "I feel 100 percent English."

There will be those that prickle at the claim, as well as England's recruitment of another foreign-born player to their ensemble. Indeed, upon announcing the Ashes squad the national selector, Geoff Miller, had to defend the selection of yet another player drawn from non-English roots.

But Ballance was not inveigled away from his homeland. Like soon-to-be team-mates Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, who both came through the South African system, he left with a clear goal in mind.

Born in Harare to parents who ran a tobacco farm, Ballance played several sports but knew early on that a career in cricket might be more fruitful - and stable - overseas. A family contact, in the form of the former Zimbabwe captain and coach Dave Houghton, then in charge at Derbyshire, was able to assist. Houghton is married to a cousin of Ballance's father and was happy to be involved in bringing the teenager to England, putting him up for a period before he took up a sports scholarship at Harrow.

"His father and mother came to see us on one of my trips back to Zimbabwe," Houghton recalls. "I knew Gary was a decent player, we're quite close as a family. They said to us, 'He's 15, what do you suggest we do? He wants to play cricket as a profession and he's got a British passport' I said, if he can get to England, we'll happily look after him."

Ballance described his Ashes inclusion as being "quite a shock" and his parents, who are currently in England, were the first to be told. Their farm was among the many confiscated by the Zimbabwe government, shortly after Ballance left home, but they remain in Zimbabwe and involved in the farming industry, making periodic visits to watch their son play.

Asked about the challenges of starting a new life in another country at such a young age, Ballance answers with a clear-eyed sense of purpose. "I don't think it was as hard as people might think, it was in the interests of my career and wanting to play cricket," he says. "It came down to that. I knew if I wanted to play cricket that England would be the best place to do it. I got help from my parents, when I came over here I got a lot of help from Dave Houghton and that made the decision a lot easier.

"Since I moved over it's been my dream to play for England. I moved to Yorkshire, to the academy there, they've treated me very well and I've had a great time there. I've always dreamed of the opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it."

 
 
A solid, muscular presence, Ballance looks like a bit like a svelte Rob Key and has a similarly cheery disposition, indicating there will not be any animosity should he and Bairstow, a one-time room-mate, end up in competition to bat at No. 6.
 
An indication of Ballance's ability is provided by his appearance at the 2006 Under-19 World Cup - at the age of 16. He played against England in the tournament, top-scoring for Zimbabwe in a two-wicket win, and was quick to impress when he was brought to Derbyshire. Karl Krikken, then in charge of the academy, suggested immediately that Ballance be signed on a summer contract.

Observant Sky Sports viewers would have caught a glimpse of the future in 2007, when Ballance smashed a century for Derbyshire club side Ockbrook and Borrowash in the televised national T20 cup, and it wasn't long before he attracted the attention of a bigger county in Yorkshire, whose academy he joined at the end of that year.

Ballance learned his cricket in Zimbabwe, where he went to the independent Peterhouse boarding school, and his batting idol was Sachin Tendulkar rather than Michael Atherton or Graham Thorpe (though Michael Vaughan's personal Ashes mirabilis of 2002-03 made an impression). He returned in 2010-11 and 2011-12 to further his development in the first-class Logan Cup competition but has since become one of England's track-suited, talent-identification generation, through the Lions and Performance Programme squads.

He impressed with the Lions in Australia over the winter, his only previous visit to the country, and although his one-day debut "didn't go as well as I'd hoped", he has now overleapt the likes of James Taylor and Ravi Bopara for Test selection.

A solid, muscular presence, Ballance looks like a bit like a svelte Rob Key and has a similarly cheery disposition, indicating there will not be any animosity should he and Bairstow, a one-time room-mate, end up in competition to bat at No. 6.

And what of his prospects if called upon to fill the position, which has chewed up numerous candidates since Paul Collingwood's retirement three winters ago? Could Ballance provide just that and offer Flower, England's made-in-Zimbabwe coach, a made-in-Zimbabwe solution? Houghton has further words of encouragement.

"His business is scoring runs. When he gets in, he gets hundreds and he has got hundreds at every level he's played at - plenty of them. And I don't expect that to change once he gets into Test cricket."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on (September 27, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

The funniest thing about these sort of articles is watching the English fans scurry around searching for excuses to try and justify all of the foreign players in their team, Ill give you the one reason why MONEY, if the ICC really are serious about expanding the game then this needs to come to an end.

Posted by   on (September 26, 2013, 11:05 GMT)

@ Front-Foot-Lunge. Dont know where you get your facts from but not Trott or Pietersens parents are English. KP and Trott might have british passports but in their hearts they are as South African as the next guy, just go have a look where they spend all their time outside of cricket!

Posted by   on (September 26, 2013, 8:47 GMT)

except that Gary "Ballance" is more likely to have French roots. his name is almost certainly of French Huguenot origin. and his family probably arrived in "Southern Rhodesia" from South Africa as many did back in the 1800's. so not as English as you think.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (September 26, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

So Ballance has been to Harrow, which is about a English you can get. He's absolutely right that if he feels English, has spent his entire taxpaying life in England, he should be considered as English. Good for him. But Compare this to the frankly shameful way that Cricket Australia have rushed through Fawad's citizenship: A 30+ year bowler who has just left his old country is on the verge of a joke as there is no comparison. Fawad has an absolute right to apply for anywhere as an asylum seeker, but to be considered as Australian based on a few FC matches played in a country degrades the entire system. You could never make that case with England: Trott and Pietersen are English as the have English parents. They are English. Ballance now is too. Ahmed is a far looser case. No doubt as Oz are staring down the barrel of yet another home Ashes defeat and more empty stadiums they will bring in whoever to be their next 2-second hero.

Posted by AbsoluteRabbit on (September 25, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

Srini_Chennai's comments are obviously are wind-up since you can show anything with cherry-picked statistics, but I thought it would be interesting to look at how the top teams come out with full series results over the last decade.

So assuming that the four top teams are Aus, Eng, Ind & SA & looking at series results (excluding Zim & Bang) from 2003 you get these win/loss stats: Aus, home 13/3, away 10/6; Eng, home 14/3, away 5/7; Ind, home 12/2, away 5/7; SA, home 9/3, away 8/5.

So it looks like Aus and SA come out tops overall, albeit the Aus figures lean on their strong teams of the earlier 2000s. Not much to choose between Eng and Ind, but both look like the classic lions at home and lambs abroad.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 25, 2013, 11:02 GMT)

Anyone educated at Harrow is likely to be as English as you can get - no matter where he was beforehand. If GB says he feels 100% English, that's more then enough for me. If people choose to suggest more cynical reasons for his 'desertion' of his native country, then those people are, implicitly, calling him a self-deceiver, or worse. Now, I have never met him & probably never will, but I will not cast aspersions on his character because I don't know what x + 2 equals. Other people seem to have him summed up & got an answer that says far more about themselves -- that they rush to judgement based on their own prejudices & values -- than it does about GB. So, I wish him well & what's more, I have a distinct feeling that he may well return from Oz as a Test cricketer with a growing reputation - probably as England's answer to the #6 berth.

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (September 25, 2013, 10:30 GMT)

@sharky_2007 that's a very good observation which most Eng supporters ignore when justifying England's poaching of foreign players. What a cricket player learns in his or her early childhood days is far more important than at the latter stage. When building a house you don't start by erecting the roof do you?! Its foundation first then than the walls then the roof. Must be demoralizing being a young Eng born cricketer these days with foreign players (and coaching staff) getting first look to represent your country.

Posted by First_Drop on (September 25, 2013, 10:19 GMT)

@markanotts et al - what say you re: Rankin, Robson, KP, Trott, Greig, Lamb, etc etc etc...? Why is this not a problem in any other cricketing countries?? It's the money on offer in England.

Posted by First_Drop on (September 25, 2013, 10:12 GMT)

Non-english born players are clearly and very disproportionately represented in the english team (see my earlier comment). The question is 'why'?

The fact is that England is not producing the required talent - if they were you would see proportionately far more english born players in the squad. The talent comes to england from overseas for the money in the county and in the england setup. They feign allegiance as its the comfortable and easy thing to do. They're sure not here for the weather.

Posted by jonesy2isaBigot on (September 25, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

I wish certain comments that are completely untrue would go unpublished on here, it even warns people that they should not write things that are untrue:

"the 2010 World 20/20 is England's only ever silverware. but it was won thanks largely due to two players:

Eoin Morgan - voted player of the tournament. KP - probably the 2nd best player of the tournament. and man of the match in the final. "

ENGLAND WON THROUGHT THE BOWLING!!! Look back at the scorecards and you will see the bowling unit of Sidebottom, Bresnan, Swann, Broad, and Yardy contained the opposition to small scores in most matches.

Posted by jonesy2isaBigot on (September 25, 2013, 9:38 GMT)

@Paul Mcallister I can count, there have been three SA's since 2004, KP, Trott, and Kieswetter who learnt some of their cricket in SA. Who are the other 7? If you are suggesting Strauss learn't his cricket in SA, are you suggesting that the first class system over there contains infants within the teams?

Or more siniisterly, are you suggesting that someone can't play for the country he grows up in, purely because his parents made the mistake of having him when they lived elsewhere?

Posted by jonesy2isaBigot on (September 25, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

@Srini_Chennai,

Conventiently forgetting that England have played far more series than the select few you mention to suit your prejudices. England play three or more test series a year, and you would probably find if you could be bothered to work it out from 2000 onwards that our win ratio is, in the top three or four in the world. So the arcticle is fairly accurate. Or are you going to claim that most teams have done better in that time, if so provide the stats.

Posted by hhillbumper on (September 25, 2013, 9:23 GMT)

There is of course the suggestion that he came to England during the persecution of the whites in Zimbabwe.He has been in the country since 15. I personally would not have picked him when Taylor was available.

As for the question of poaching because of the EU trading rules there are a number of countries which have trading with UK which means they can play in County cricket.However they have to choose to undergo the residency time period to play for England. That is not poaching of players but people do have English parents so are able to play here.

It is down to the players what they choose to do.i do also question Millers fixation with African players. It does seem that the quickest route into the team is through a foreign accent and English players have missed out. There is a very decent amount of young English talent but seemingly they have to work twice as hard to over come the Southern African bias. Taylor is a far better player but seemingly does not fit.

Posted by   on (September 25, 2013, 8:21 GMT)

"Contest toughens up for Ashes No. 6 spot" - What contest? The fact is that England have failed to fill the void left by Paul Collingwood's retirement almost three years ago. What England needs is not a #6 batsman but a fourth seamer able to keep one end closed while the main bowlers rest, a bowler who is also good enough to bat at #6 or #7.

Forget Ballance and Bairstow! They are not what England need until Prior and Pietersen respectively call it a day. Make way for Ben Stokes or Chris Woakes, and give each of them a run long enough to decide whichever is the better bowling option.

This is where the England selectors have failed and failed badly in the selection process.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (September 25, 2013, 8:17 GMT)

@landl47 (post on September 24, 2013, 13:46 GMT): He reminds me a bit of Rob Key in the photo there!

@poms_have_short_memories (post on September 24, 2013, 20:44 GMT): in that case your fight/argument should be with SA and other countries for (in some cases) snubbing such talents in the first place. Don't see many talented players coming over to try and get into a divided, disorganised Aus. team

@jmcilhinney (post on September 25, 2013, 1:17 GMT): I wouldn't say "mediocre" [KP = spinner] - he actually did O.K. and terrorised a touring England squad once with his offies. I think he should bowl much more in tests even though he pretends to be a specialist batsman now.

Posted by First_Drop on (September 25, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Arguing that these players have 'honed their games' in the county championship ignores one vital and obvious question - if its the county championship that is responsible for their development then you would expect English born players to proportionately benefit in the same way. Statistically, you would expect a maximum of one non-english born player in the test and ODI side. Yet 'foreigners' (non-english born players) disproportionately represent England. Its a statistical absurdity, and clearly shows that it has little to do with the county championship. 6 out of 17 of the Ashes Squad were born outside of England, many of them developing their cricket outside of england. That's 35%.

Posted by MeijiMura on (September 25, 2013, 7:54 GMT)

Another nail in the coffin of Zimbabwean Cricket!

Posted by Haleos on (September 25, 2013, 7:54 GMT)

@poms_have_short_memories - provided those 3 wanted to play for the SA. Also provided they were selected to play for SA. @by ReverseSweepIndia - completely agree with you. There are talented players around the world but there are also lot of talented players in county cricket who might never get an oppurtunity because of selectors practice of picking up players the way they are. One of the best team in the world should not need foreigners to play for them.

Posted by Haleos on (September 25, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

This nonsense should stop. The players should be selected only if they are born in a country or have stayed a long time in the country with parental lineage. Selection based on residency is unfair to local players.

Posted by ShanTheFanOfSachin on (September 25, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

I am not British and understandably I do not have any problems with ENG selecting foerign imports. But, England football fans complain about foreign players being preferred by professional English football clubs and in this in Cricket!!

I hope they don't complain about it anymore.

Posted by ReverseSweepIndia on (September 25, 2013, 7:08 GMT)

well, I do not have to say anything about Eng poaching and then playing players from other countries origin. But I wonder, say I am native Englishman, will ever consider taking cricket as sport considering some import will get more attention and perhaps debut too before I get my chance (which in fact may never come!)

Posted by Srini_Chennai on (September 25, 2013, 4:23 GMT)

One of the best teams in the decade and a half? ROFL, they've lost 1-0 in WI, 0-0 in NZ, 0-3 in UAE, 2-0, 2-1 loss to SA in home, 1-0 loss to India in home in 2007, 1-1 in SA which should have been 3-1 to SA. Apart from the last series win in India they haven't won a series for 28 years. Countless thrashings in Aus apart from last series. This is the performance of one of the best teams in the world?

Posted by Udendra on (September 25, 2013, 4:16 GMT)

Must say, the guy has very impressive first class stats (both Avg & SR). how many more such talented individuals are there in ZIM? bring them all to ENG.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (September 25, 2013, 1:17 GMT)

@poms_have_short_memories on (September 24, 2013, 20:44 GMT), it's a real stretch to call Matt Prior South African and it's also debatable whether KP or Trott ever would have made the SA team. KP was a mediocre off-spinner when he moved to England and only became a batsman while in England. Trott also improved markedly while in England, which is why he made the move in the first place, and quite probably never would have played for SA. There were many who were against his playing for England at the time he was selected too. No doubt there'll be whinging if Sam Robson plays for England too, despite the fact that he couldn't even make a state side in Australia, while he was shown faith and developed in the English county game.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2013, 21:22 GMT)

I totally agree with you poms_have_short_memories! not forgetting Andrew Strauss. arguably, England's most successful skipper and opening batsman. and you only have to look at England's only global success for further proof that England would be rubbish without their foreign legion. the 2010 World 20/20 is England's only ever silverware. but it was won thanks largely due to two players:

Eoin Morgan - voted player of the tournament. KP - probably the 2nd best player of the tournament. and man of the match in the final.

Posted by poms_have_short_memories on (September 24, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

Without their arguably two best batsmen,Pietersen and Trott, not to mention the best wicketkeeper batsman in the world atm, England's batting would be fairly brittle. It's scary to think how good SA would be with those three complimenting Smith, Amla, Devilliers and co.

Posted by   on (September 24, 2013, 20:02 GMT)

at one what point can we stop calling England, England chaps? surely we are not far off from that juncture?

10 South Africans selected since 2004 (you know who they all are!) 3 Irishmen poached during the same period. 1 new Zimbabwean and 1 new Kiwi in Ashes tour down under. 1 Aussie protégée tempted over to the dark side.

Posted by salazar555 on (September 24, 2013, 17:42 GMT)

Ballance gets a deserved call up, top young player with an average up there with the best.

Talking of averages, Lumb is now averaging over 50 in Div 1 first class cricket this year and we are taking Carberry on the ashes trip when he averages under 40 in div 2 this year.

Can someone tell me why because I'm struggling to work it out?

Posted by mahjut on (September 24, 2013, 17:30 GMT)

Hick was, of course, a mismanaged but world class batsman (Taylor is at least good enough to be a fringe player in most sides) and Ballance, although untested [and had an inauspicious start in LOC],will probably do at least as well as Bopara has...and there's no need to wish nor suppose otherwise! It certainly does not detract from the fact that Zim continues to unearth excellent players - despite the many hindrances to their chances at flourishing in the international arena.

Posted by Nduru on (September 24, 2013, 17:24 GMT)

@Xolile: Yes, those are test-level players, but what about Tatenda Taibu? Why have you left him out? He is one of the best keeper batsmen around with a test batting average BETTER than Mark Boucher's, and he was just as good behind the stumps. Then there is Hamilton Masakadza. How can someone not up to test standard score three test centuries? He was also one of the best players of this recent Pakistan victory. Tino Mawoyo has also proved himself (163 n/o against Pak) and if it weren't for the long gap between games would find better rhythm. Then there are the bowlers like Paul Strang and Ray Price (5 Five wicket hauls in test cricket is not a fluke), and others like Chatara and Shingi who are starting to prove themselves. You have put forward this factually incorrect opinion in the past, but obviously you did not read my response as I said the same thing and will say it again.

Posted by ZCFOutkast on (September 24, 2013, 16:16 GMT)

@Xolile what are you getting at? It's rather off the mark to rate Taylor&Hick as genuine Test batsmen, plus Ballance is still to be tested - and I think he will fail. Always struggled whenever our top frontline Logan Cup bowlers were available in Zim's FC competition, than against the weak change bowlers in the County setup.

The Proteas have had over 22 years of continuous top flight cricket but just Ntini(plus the sabotaged Ngam&Zondeki) really to show for it out of a population of 35mil plus! Even Tsotsobe was mysteriously overlooked for the Aus tour. Embarrassing!

Over the last decade&a half, Zim has been churning out the likes of Olonga, Watambwa, Mbangwa, Hondo, Panyangara&Mupariwa, and now recently Vitori, Chatara&Shingi. All of them excellent seamers, with unquestionable international pedigree where their strengths lie. In terms of producing talent, taking into consideration the conditions that have existed in Zim over a long time, no other cricket nation stands in comparison!

Posted by Dashgar on (September 24, 2013, 16:00 GMT)

Zimbabwe are producing some seriously good talent right now. Even with the player drain they are getting stronger and stronger. Imagine how good they could be with the money in the game so they could keep all their players.

Posted by DingDong420 on (September 24, 2013, 15:51 GMT)

How are England one of the best teams of the last decade and a half? They may have beaten Australia a couple of time but this isnt the best OZ team. England are a good team but still have a lot to prove

Posted by   on (September 24, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

Poachers gonna Poach, cant help that. Granted that he had passport at 15, but he was never selected for England Under 19, he was selected for the ZIM U-19, gets signed by an english country, has a good season and all of sudden he's playing for england.

That's a serious concern considering a large number of young promising players from different countries are playing in england.

Under this rate, soon George Dockrell, Paul Sterling and Sam Robson would be playing for England.

Posted by mahjut on (September 24, 2013, 15:26 GMT)

well, for the few claiming he is a product of the English game, I am afraid that's not completely true ... he learned his cricket at Peterhouse in Zim and although he honed his skills in England - it was not exclusively so, he played in Zim's FC structure too. Along with a few other (fully British) players whose names get bandied about for an Eng cap.

Whether or not it's a good thing that the "tap" (mentioned by ZCFOutkast) will "be ... shut permanently" is merely a matter of perspective but transformation was/is a reality and Zim/SA will lose those fellas who cannot (or do not need/want to) come to terms with it: no matter how much the rights and wrongs are disagreed on

Posted by   on (September 24, 2013, 15:17 GMT)

It is in the hands of the Zimb. Cricket board, and ultimately their 'politicans' to sort their country out and create a system which encourages their best players to stay with them. With qualification down to 4 years now it is so easy for players to simply pick their team, and there is nothing cricket can do about it. Its a shame but you can't really blame the players.

Posted by NALINWIJ on (September 24, 2013, 13:57 GMT)

Team selection for the last Ashes tour downunder was without controversy for the first time for as long as I can remember and was a tremendous success but I have reservations about some selections. Carberry over Compton could turn out to be a blunder as Carberry is a limited overs player who has not even shown any form in ODI let alone first class matches and Compton has not put a foot wrong against Australia. Carrington may have picked himself out of the Ashes and lead to selection of Panesar. There is a mixture of uncertain fitness or uncertain form among the pace attack. Australia certainly has a better chance this time than the last Ashes downunder.

Posted by landl47 on (September 24, 2013, 13:46 GMT)

Ballance is the best young batsman in England. His record shows that. I believe he will ultimately take over Kevin Pietersen's role in the side as an attacking #4/5.

Whether this tour is going to be the one in which he breaks through I don't know. There's really only one position up for grabs; Bairstow is the incumbent and Stokes offers an extra option with his bowling, so Ballance might miss out. However, it won't be long before he makes himself a vital part of the team.

BTW, there have been a couple of references to his fitness. Don't let his round face fool you; he took one of the finest outfield catches I've ever seen, diving away from the wicket towards the boundary and catching a ball dropping over his head at full stretch. Only a very fit, athletic player could have done it. He'll be an asset in the field.

Posted by Xolile on (September 24, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

It is now more than 33 years since Mugabe came to power. In that time Zimbabwe has produced one legendary player (Andy Flower - arguably the greatest Test wicketkeeper-batsman of all time) and six genuine Test-level players (Graeme Hick, Dave Houghton, Murray Goodwin, Heath Streak, Brendan Taylor, and now, Gary Ballance).

Posted by GeoffreysMother on (September 24, 2013, 12:15 GMT)

It is interesting that England's batsmen in the margins, Bairstow, Ballance, Stokes and Carberry all have a flair for attack and those left out Taylor and Compton are more defensive minded. I think this is intentional: Australia's bowling showed that they are capable of drying up most batmens favourite scoring areas (including the experienced Cook, Prior and Trott). I imagine they think that one of these batsmen is more likely to break the shackles, though like Bairstow, this comes with a greater risk of being out. Compton , who has cut out a lot of attacking shots to get where he is, could become virtually runless. It is a bit more harsh on Taylor who has generally done well in a poor Notts side. The competition between Ballance and Bairstow for a place will be good for the team , and them- mind you if Prior does as badly with the gloves and bat as he did this summer they might both end up playing by Christmas!

Posted by   on (September 24, 2013, 12:01 GMT)

What is this fixation with where a player was born? If you qualify to play for a country then that should be the end of the argument. All of England's foreign-born players honed their skills in the English county game, it's not as if they have been parachuted in direct from the veldt.

Posted by sonofstan on (September 24, 2013, 11:50 GMT)

British passport holder. I have no problem there.

Posted by Nduru on (September 24, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

As a Zimbabwean myself, I am very pleased for Gary. Of course, in an ideal world, he would play for Zimbabwe, but as Zimbabwe's best prospect since Andy Flower, it is only right that he has the best shot at top-level cricket for a country that will support him and offer that chance. Sad as it is, Zimbabwe is not that country anymore.

Posted by 200ondebut on (September 24, 2013, 11:36 GMT)

At the age of 15 he had a British passport. From 15 he has called England home and has been a product of the English game. Enough said! If he wants to play for England he has earned the right.

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (September 24, 2013, 11:23 GMT)

Somebody "sows", somebody else "reaps" or is it english colonial"roots" bearing " fruits"? Anyway congratulations Balance. Inclusion of Balance gives balanced look to ashes squad.

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