Home > Features >

England squad for Ashes 2013-14: Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin’s chance to impress

England squad for Ashes 2013-14: Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin's chance to impress

Gary Ballance (left) and Boyd Rankin were included in the 17-man England squad for the 2013-14 Ashes series in Australia © Getty Images

England announced their 17-man squad to tour Australia for the return Ashes starting November 20. While the headlines were dominated by the return of troubled left-arm spinner Monty Panesar into the fold, Jaideep Vaidya looks at the opportunities given to inexperienced players such as Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin to impress.

England’s squad for the Ashes 2013-14 included the usual suspects, expected new inclusions and some surprising exclusions. While 10 of the 17 members of the announced squad were also part of England’s home Ashes party, there were some expected new arrivals such as middle-order batsman Gary Ballance, pacer Boyd Rankin and all-rounder Ben Stokes, along with some unexpected ones such as Michael Carberry and Chris Tremlett. Monty Panesar, expected to have left his troubles aside, was given a shot in the arm by an inclusion as Graeme Swann’s deputy, while exclusions such as Graham Onions and Nick Compton raised a few eyebrows.
 
If England’s squad is analysed, nine of the 17 members select themselves and walk into the team for any match. These include: Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott. This leaves two spots up for grabs — the No 6 batsman and the third fast bowler. Looking at the remaining options in the squad, two names stand out as the first choice for the said positions: Gary Ballance and Boyd Rankin.
 
The No 6 position in the batting line-up as been England’s tripping stone for quite a while now. Jonny Bairstow, who occupied the position for the first four of the five summer Ashes Tests, could only manage 203 runs in seven innings at 29.00. Although Bairstow has somehow managed to keep his place in the squad, probably due to his credentials as a reserve wicketkeeper to Matt Prior, one wouldn’t be surprised if his name isn’t on the team sheet on November 21 at Brisbane.
 
So, why Ballance?
 
Well, for one, he provides a second left-hand option in the top six after the skipper Cook. While that may seem unfair on Compton, the Zimbabwe-born Ballance justifies his inclusion in the starting eleven on the grounds of the terrific season that he has had for Yorkshire, where he scored 1,107 First-Class runs at 55.35. He also performed consistently for the England Lions in the last year, scoring a classy century against Australia in the build-up to the 2013 Ashes. This has perhaps persuaded the selectors to pick him ahead of the likes of Compton and James Taylor.
 
Ballance, 23, is a left-hander who boasts of a wide array of shots in his armory. Former England captain Michael Vaughan has backed the decision to pick him, writing in the Telegraph: “The spare batsman is a tricky selection but I would go for Gary Ballance. I have seen enough of him to know he can play in Australia because he has a good back-foot game. He has a calm nature and stands out on his own in the way he wins games for Yorkshire in all forms of the game.”
 
If he has a weakness, it is against the short ball, which could be exposed on the seaming pitches. But he has provided plenty other reasons to test him out at the position, perhaps starting with the tour games ahead of the series, against Western Australia, New South Wales and Australia A.
 
Coming to Rankin, 29, the second player in the English squad with roots outside the country, the tall Irish-born fast bowler impressed in England’s One-Day International (ODI) series loss to Australia, taking five wickets in three games. He troubled the Australian batsmen, especially Michael Clarke, with his hit-the-deck bowling delivered from a towering height. A tall, strapping lad of 6’7″, Rankin would be relishing the opportunity to bowl on Australia’s seamer-friendly pitches.
 
Former Ireland teammate William Porterfield recently told the Guardian: ”Boyd has always been massive, and there aren’t many blokes who are six foot eight and can bowl late 80s [mph]. He’s always had the ability, he showed that with Ireland — every time he came up against world-class batsmen he would rise to the challenge, and I think that’s stood him in good stead for what’s happened with England in the last couple of weeks. We’ve played India in India, Bangladesh in Bangladesh, in front of big crowds and hostile atmospheres, so I don’t think playing Australia in Australia will be a problem for him either. The big difference these last two years is that he’s got a hell of a lot stronger. He’s 29 now as well, at a stage where he knows where he’s at. So he’s been consistently quick and consistently threatening every spell he bowls.”
 
Rankin gets the ball to come into the right-hander and coupled with his height he could prove to be a potent weapon for Alastair Cook in Australia. He looks to be the best choice for the third seamer spot behind Anderson and Broad, and is a similar bowler to Chris Tremlett, who bowled so well during England’s last trip Down Under. He also provides a cover with his handy batting abilities, making him an able No 8 or 9.
 
The selectors have put their faith in inexperienced lads for what would be a difficult trip Down Under. If the potential debutants do get a chance to don the white flannels, it would be a valuable opportunity for them to grow and prove their credentials.

(Jaideep Vaidya is a correspondent at CricketCountry. A diehard Manchester United fan and sports buff, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook)

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 21, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Bulawayo

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 23, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Hambantota

India tour of England 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Bristol

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (00:00 IST)   at Basseterre, St Kitts

More

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 20, 2014  at St George's, Grenada

West Indies won by 3 wkts

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 19, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 61 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 17, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 93 runs

India tour of England 2014

Aug 15, 2014  at London

England won by an innings and 244 runs

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 105 runs

Photos

Highlights of Mahela Jayawardene’s Test career

Videos

Hughes explains technique behind cut shot

West Indies vs Bangladesh Live Cricket Score, 1st ODI at St George’s: West Indies win by 3 wickets

Len Pascoe: There was a hospital ward named after Jeff Thomson and me

India tour of Australia 2014-15: 5 ways India can avoid another overseas embarrassment

MS Dhoni can benefit from borrowing the ‘Sourav Ganguly School of leadership’

Ravi Shastri inspired confidence as player and captain: Will he do it in a coaching capacity?

England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014

Rahul Dravid was BCCI’s first choice ahead of Ravi Shastri to oversee Indian ODI team

BCCI willing to give Ravi Shastri blank cheque if he continues till ICC World Cup 2015

Stuart Broad to undergo knee surgery on September 4

West Indies vs Bangladesh 2014: Why West Indies’ victory is statistically significant

West Indies beat Bangladesh by 3 wickets in 1st ODI at Grenada

Alex Hales’ inclusion a positive move by England for ODI series against India

13 things you may not know about Ravi Shastri

India Women vs England Women — Despite Test win, India will face tough challenge in ODI series

Duncan Fletcher speaks out; explains why Team India failed in the Test series against England!

India Women vs England Women ODI series: Test victory should motivate them to improve their ODI record in England

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

659 Posts | 6 Fans

India tour of England 2014: Sunil Gavaskar says Indian batsmen did not learn anything

OnePlus starts hiring in India ahead of launch

How much money has the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised till now?

Connect Broadband launches virus control system

Alex Hales’ inclusion a positive move by England for ODI series against India

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini suffers ankle ligament damage

Rahul Dravid was BCCI’s first choice ahead of Ravi Shastri to oversee Indian ODI team

Vidya Balan gets caught while watching Salman Khan’s Kick in disguise!

Hrithik Roshan will not romance Jacqueline Fernandez

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here