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.