Saturday, 23 February 2013
Gary Ballance tour diary part four
The England Lions tour has moved onto Hobart for the last week, which is a lot different from big cities like Melbourne, which is where we’ve been based previously.
It’s a much smaller city for a start and the ground here is obviously totally different from a vast arena like the MCG. Unfortunately our move to Hobart has not helped our results and the first two games against Australia A have not gone according to plan. The first game went down to the last over, but we probably allowed them too many runs in the second game and were not able to chase them down.
I believe I’m playing well personally, even if results have not gone well for us as a team. I got a couple of scores in the warm-up games but circumstances have counted against me against Australia A. In the first match, I came in with only a few overs to go so I didn’t have a chance to build an innings and had to score quickly. I was caught on the boundary, which is always disappointing but sometimes that’s the way it goes in one-day matches. The second game was slightly different in that I arrived at the crease mid-way through the innings when we needed eight or nine runs an over. I thought I was going ok until the seam bowlers came back on and they bowled very well.
Playing in these matches against Australia A makes you realise that this is a step up from county cricket, although I don’t think it is as big a step as I thought it might be. I think we all feel we are in an environment where we can do well, get recognised for our efforts and have a chance to go forward and play for the full England side. I’d like to think I will return to Yorkshire as an improved player once this tour is over. I’ve experienced India and Australia this winter so I believe my game has gone on that little bit more and hopefully I can finish strongly out here and then continue the good form for Yorkshire in the summer.
We’ve been following how the England team have been going on in New Zealand and it’s been no surprise to me how quickly Joe Root, my Yorkshire team-mate, has settled into international cricket. I’ve played at the Academy, the second team and for Yorkshire’s first team with him and I’ve always known he is a quality player. He’s always been talented and you got the feeling it was only a matter of time before he was going to score runs for England. He deserves his chance and he’s proving that he belongs at that level. Watching Joe perform as well as he has definitely gives me encouragement that I can do the same – after all it was only a year ago he was also playing for the Lions.
The other news that has found its way to Australia is the retirement of Anthony McGrath after 17 years with Yorkshire. Since I joined Yorkshire, he was always someone I looked up to and went to for advice and I know a lot of the other young players did the same like Joe Root and Adam Lyth. He is definitely going to leave a big hole in our dressing room now he’s no longer a player and he’s been a big influence on my game. Of course I can’t mention Anthony McGrath without thinking of his great sense of humour and his love of a good prank. No one ever knew for sure who was responsible for pranks like having the toes cut off socks, but we all suspected it was him. I’m sure he’s going to be missed by all of us both inside the dressing room and out on the pitch.