The Ashes: Gary Ballance surprised to earn place in England squad
Gary Ballance has revealed his shock at being included in England's squad for the defence of the Ashes in Australia.
Last Updated: 23/09/13 9:35pm
The Yorkshire batsman is one of three players in the squad yet to win a Test cap, only making his international debut against Ireland earlier this month, when he was dismissed for a duck.
But his form with the bat for his county this season has been stellar with 995 runs in 13 County Championship outings and more than 600 more in limited overs cricket.
That was enough to see him beat out competition from the likes of Ravi Bopara and James Taylor for a place in the 17-man party, where he will provide back-up for England's regular middle-order batsmen.
Ballance said: "I wasn't expecting it and I was surprised when I got the call. I am looking forward to it.
"It will be a great lifetime experience. It will be an honour to represent England at the highest level and it will be extra special in an Ashes Series.
"It will be a little daunting playing with some of the best players in the world but I know that I'll be made welcome.
"I've spoken to Joe (Root), Jonny (Bairstow) and Tim (Bresnan) about the England set-up and they speak highly of the dressing room. It is very much like a club environment where everyone works hard for each other with one common goal of winning.
"I expect it to be a demanding tour, with massive interest. The pitches will be quick and bouncy and there will be a lot of pressure on us to deliver. No doubt Australia will be stronger and they will want to respond after their series defeat in the summer.
"I'm not thinking too far in advance about breaking into the team. I will work hard on my game. Develop my skills in the nets and practice and see what comes of it. There is a lot of competition for places, which is very exciting."
Yorkshire coach Martyn Moxon was delighted to see Ballance's name added to the county's involvement with the England squad - Bresnan will also be with the party as he recovers from surgery on his back.
Moxon added: "Gary is rated highly by the selectors and his selection is deserved after an excellent season in four-day cricket.
"He has been one of the standout batsmen in the Championship and will relish playing at the next level. He has the right temperament to be very successful and will thrive on the added responsibility."