England selectors have named the squad that will try and defend The Ashes when England and Australia resume their rivalry in the latter nation in a couple of months’ time. While the usual experienced players have retained their spots without any surprise, there are a few interesting selections that England have pulled out, who may end up getting their England caps in Australia. The players we are talking about include Gary Ballance, Ben Stokes, Boyd Rankin and Michael Carberry. We did a little research about these little-known names, and here is what we dug out.
Gary Ballance: Born in Zimbabwe, the 23-year-old is a left-handed batsman. He represented the Zimbabwe Under 19 squad during the World Cup in 2006 before moving on, like many others, to play country cricket in England. Having represented Derbyshire in List A cricket, he now plays for the famous county, Yorkshire. Ballance made his first-class debut for Yorkshire against Kent in 2008, and since has been among their better players. His record of close of 5000 runs in 64 games averaging over 50 with 16 tons speaks for itself. Impressed by his form, Ballance was chosen for the England Lions squad which took on Australia earlier this year. He made his ODI debut against Ireland earlier this month. Ballance would now be keen to begin his Test journey.
Ben Stokes: Another player not born in England. An all-rounder, the 22-year-old Stokes was born in Christchurch in New Zealand. He has been part of England’s one-day and T20 squad in recent times, but is yet to make his mark distinctly. Stokes, in fact, made his ODI debut against Ireland back in 2011. Since then however he has featured in only 10 matches, and has managed just 87 runs with the bat. With the ball, Stokes’most impressive performance came recently when he picked up 5 for 61 against Australia during the last match of the series. However, he has only managed one wicket in the other matches put together. Stokes represents Durham in first-class cricket and has scored over 3000 runs apart from picking up 100 plus wickets in 57 matches.
Boyd Rankin: If the name sounds familiar, it is because Rankin is the same fast bowler who impressed one and all with his excellent bowling skills during the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, playing for minnows Ireland. The 29-year-old made the switch to England recently, and has joined another Irishman in the England camp, Eoin Morgan, who is currently out of favour as far as Tests are concerned. Having made a serious impression while playing for Warwickshire, Rankin recently got a chance to represent England in ODIs, and in the few games that he has played, he has looked among the best of the bowlers on show. Overall, Rankin has played 42 ODIs, and has picked up 52 wickets averaging 29. England will have high hopes of him in The Ashes as well.
Michael Carberry: He has pretty much been chosen as the back-up opener. The man from Hampshire has been a stalwart in the domestic arena. In 145 games, he has amassed over 10000 runs averaging 43 with 28 hundreds. He has been called as a reserve opener in the England Test squad earlier, and made his Test debut against Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2010. He scored 64 runs in that match. Further, in five ODIs, he has managed one half-century –63 against Australia recently. Unless an emergency arrives, he might not be needed to open the innings it seems.
--By A Cricket Analyst