Ballance 'harshly treated' by England - Gale
Yorkshire's captain, Andrew Gale, has criticised England's decision to omit Adam Lyth and Gary Ballance from the Test squad for the UAE. Four players from the Championship-winning county were included but Gale said Ballance in particular had been "harshly treated" after being overlooked by the selectors.
Ballance became the third-fastest England batsman to score 1000 Test runs earlier this year but was dropped after the second Ashes Test, with Ian Bell moving up to No. 3 and Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow earning a recall. He has now slipped further down the pecking order, with James Taylor included at Ballance's expense after impressing during the ODIs with Australia.
While Ballance has produced scores of 165 and 91 in the Championship in recent weeks, he made a pair against Middlesex as Yorkshire claimed the title at Lord's. Concerns have been expressed about his back-foot technique - in Yorkshire's current fixture against Hampshire, being televised on Sky, Ballance was dropped in the gully playing tentatively at Fidel Edwards before being dismissed for 30 - although that may have been less of an issue on the slow surfaces of the UAE.
There was no room for Ballance in either the Lions squad to play a T20 series with Pakistan A in the UAE this winter - although the format is not his strongest suit - or the England Performance Programme, which were announced on Wednesday.
"I'm gutted for the lads," Gale said. "I'm so disappointed for Gaz. He's got an unbelievable record. I think he's been harshly treated, and I'm really disappointed with the ECB for that.
"I strongly disagree with the decision they've made. He's got a proven record at that level, and yet they've picked James Taylor ahead of him. As much as I love 'Titch', I think Gaz deserves a chance to get back in that squad and prove again what he did before.
"He's a mentally strong lad is Gaz and a pretty level-headed guy. Knowing him as I do, he'll take it in his stride and come back much stronger."
Lyth scored a century in his second Test but his position as Alastair Cook's opening partner came under increasing threat during the Ashes, as he averaged just 12.77 with a highest score of 37. Lyth was the leading first-class run-scorer in 2014, with 1619 at 70.39, but only passed 50 once in 13 Test innings against New Zealand and Australia as bowlers targeted a noticeable fragility outside off stump.
Alex Hales was the beneficiary, having passed 1000 runs in first-class cricket for Nottinghamshire this season, although England could pursue other options within the squad to open in three Tests against Pakistan.
"In terms of Lythy, I thought Michael Carberry summed it up well in a Sky interview when he said someone deserves a really good run in that opener's spot," Gale said.
"I'm not a fan of chopping and changing. You'll see with our Yorkshire team this year that I'm a big believer in continuity and backing guys for a certain amount of time. Lythy's shown that he can perform at that level, and it's not as if opening batters are falling out of trees and churning runs out week after week like Lythy did last year."
With Lyth and Ballance left out, the number of Yorkshire representatives in the touring squad fell, after six were taken to the Caribbean at the start of the season. Joe Root, England's highest-ranked batsmen, is a guaranteed starter in the middle order, while Bairstow, Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett retained their places.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick