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)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Colombo

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

More

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wickets (D/L method)

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Photos

Phil Hughes suffers head injury: In photos

Videos

AB de Villiers: Disappointed with defeat in Australia

Phil Hughes suffers head injury: In photos

Phil Hughes injury: Indian team sends its best wishes

India’s bowling performance on Day One of tour of Australia is a promising sign

India tour of Australia 2014-15: Can India afford such a rigorous tour just ahead of ICC World Cup 2015?

Cheteshwar Pujara faces crucial series in Australia following England nightmare

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 Bangladesh Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 India India tour of Australia 2014-15 South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh 2014 Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh 2014

Sourav Ganguly to motivate Atletico de Kolkata players with inspirational talks

IPL 2013 spot-fixing scandal leads to India Cements’ stock value going down

Phil Hughes was wearing an older version of helmet, say manufacturers

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2014: Karnataka register emphatic 156-run victory over Punjab to claim title

IPL 2013 spot-fixing controversy: Aditya Verma urges Supreme Court to make Mudgal report public

India’s bowling performance on Day One of tour of Australia is a promising sign

India tour of Australia 2014-15: Can India afford such a rigorous tour just ahead of ICC World Cup 2015?

Chandu Patankar: A gloveman lost amidst Bombay stalwarts

Cheteshwar Pujara faces crucial series in Australia following England nightmare

The first match at the Melbourne Cricket Club

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

682 Posts | 6 Fans

Video: Phil Hughes suffers head injury, collapses on field during New South Wales vs South Australia tie

Bigg Boss 8 Highlights: Sonali Raut’s greed ruins Praneet Bhat’s opportunity to meet his girlfriend

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

What was Abhishek Bachchan’s T-shirt doing on Priyamani’s bed?

Schalke vs Chelsea Live Streaming and Score: Watch Live Telecast Online of UEFA Champions League 2014-15 Group G match

Revealed — number of calories in different types of milk

Week by Week Pregnancy Guide – Week 27 of your pregnancy

ISL 2014: Atletico de Kolkata co-owner Sourav Ganguly says, Fights, controversies are part and parcel in sport

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here