The doughy tenacity of Gary Ballance and why he makes Test cricket feel more significant

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We’re a day late with this really, but maybe it’s taken that long to fully sink in. Gary Ballance is our new favourite batsman.

We know Sam Robson scored a hundred, but we’ve not yet warmed to him in quite the same way. There were too many edges. Ballance, despite scoring fewer runs, seems infinitely more reassuring.

He just has a doughy tenacity about him and an expressionless way of going about things that makes you think he has absolutely no perspective in life; that everything’s about scoring runs. Clearly, that’s massively unhealthy and probably sets him up for a massive fall later in his career, but as a fan, sitting at home, willing your team to do well, it’s clearly a positive.

Cricketers have too much fun these days. If they’re not joking around in the field, grinning at each other, they’re laughing with their batting partner about the outrageous four they just hit. But Test cricket seems a serious business for Gary Ballance and that’s excellent to see, because Test cricket is a serious business. When everyone’s stony-faced and earnest, acting like it’s a life or death situation, watching at home, the game seems more important.

Yesterday, the ball found the edge but went wide of Gary Ballance. He made much the same face as he ever does, but his body language said: “That could have been a catch. That could have been a Test catch. Someone could have been out in Test match cricket.

Everything suddenly seems very, very important when Gary Ballance is involved. It’s the way Test cricket should be.


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  1. He’ll have a good opportunity to prove his doughiness in the second innings. England will most likely be chasing 200+. It will be interesting to see how the recent centurions perform under genuine chase pressure, with a match to be won and lost.

    1. We knead to finish off the Sri Lankans pronto and avoid the wicket turning any crustier than it already seems to be. The batsmen, Gal Bal included, will really have to rise to the occasion.

    2. England will be trying and failing to chase 300+ because they made a godawful mess of batting the first time around. They will lose the series, and deservedly so. Then Cook will resign.

    3. England are toast. We’ve let them baguette too many. Cook hasn’t been using his loaf. Maybe they should look to Josh Cobb. Or bring back sarnie Sidebottom.

    4. Not enough hat-tricks in this match, that’s been England’s main problem. Bowlers taking two-in-two have been noticeably failing to get the third. It’s a weakness that I think England needs to address with urgency and team meetings.

      Anyway, everything will be fine. I had a dream the other night that the captain would get a match-winning hundred in the second innings, so that should be sorted for England.

    5. (I now realise that was probably the joke you were making. Please be more obvious in future. I’m tired.)

    6. If you have an EDIT feature, you would lose that moment of crystal clear revelation that is precisely synchronous with clicking SUBMIT APPEAL. Spelling mistakes, missing apostrophes, confusing one player for another – all these mistakes become instantly obvious at exactly the moment it is too late to recall the comment. And we would lose the opportunity to tear people to shreds for [JOKE ALERT FOR TIRED PEOPLE] the unforgiveable crime of missing the point of a previous comment.

    7. I’m not sure that missing the point really is an unforgivable crime, Bert. That seems a bit harsh.

      OH NO!!! I missed the point. I was even alerted to it and still missed it.

      And worse, my finger is inexplicably drawn to the “Submit Appeal” button so everyone can see my stupidity…

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