The Yorkshire batsman via Zimbabwe was favourite to start this series at No 6. Alastair Cook’s stiff back gave Michael Carberry a chance to open, which he took, Joe Root moved down the order. It does not look convincing so Ballance has to be given a chance now.
Durham’s leg-spinner and top-order batsman has northern grit, belief and flair. In truth, it is probably premature for him to be making his debut at 23 but he was nominated by Graeme Swann last week as his preferred successor and England instantly summoned him to the squad. His county used him sparingly last summer but if the eye is now on the future his time might have come.
For reasons known only to themselves England picked three fast bowling giants on this tour. One of them, Chris Tremlett, has played one Test. Steve Finn has been completely bereft of form, Tremlett is too far down on pace to be recalled. If the policy is to have any merit the Irishman, diffident in the warm-up matches, has to be sent out to bang it in.
A truly bold move would be to call for Buttler from the Big Bash League where he is representing Melbourne Renegades. He is already England’s one-day keeper and, while he is a work in progress, his batting has a touch of genius, his keeping a touch of class. If it would be harsh on Jonny Bairstow after one match, none of his work suggested a truly competent or durable wicketkeeper-batsman.
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