Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Aussies Relishing Chance to Rip into Vince and Ballance

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Aussies Relishing Chance to Rip into Vince and Ballance

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Stocks at The Oval

IF the controversy surrounding Ben Stokes has clouded England's Ashes preparations then the inclusion in the squad of James Vince and Gary Ballance is also unlikely to generate much confidence about the team's chances in Australia.

Both are batsmen whose shortcomings have been brutally exposed at Test level and it's hard to work out why England's selectors believe they will fare better against a four-pronged Australian pace attack who must be licking their lips at the prospect of taking them on.

The inclusion of Vince is curious given he had such an underwhelming start to his England career last summer, making a top score of 42 and averaging just 19.27 in seven home Tests against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The Hampshire captain has been selected to fill the No3 role left open by the dropping of Tom Westley, who can have no complaints about missing out this winter after a poor end to the summer for both England and Essex. However, the fact Vince's form in the County Championship this season has been so mediocre he averages a shade above 34 and he doesn't even bat at three for his county means Westley will be disappointed he has been replaced by a player who has hardly made a compelling case for a recall.

James Whitaker, England's chairman of selectors, gave a far from convincing argument for Vince's inclusion, saying: "Evaluating his performances in all forms of cricket over the last couple of years we've got every confidence James' game will suit Australian conditions.

"He's shown glimpses over the last few months of good form but he'll admit he's got unfinished business at Test level. He's keen to put his Test record right and we're confident he'll do that. No one's got a crystal ball on this but we've got faith his game will withstand the conditions and the type of bowlers he'll face. …

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