New Ashes recruit Gary Ballance says he's thrilled to be a part of the squad, and isn't thinking about competing with Jonny Bairstow for a place in the side right now.
<b>New Ashes recruit Gary Ballance says he's thrilled to be a part of the squad, and isn't thinking about competing with Jonny Bairstow for a place in the side right now.</b>
Ballance earned the call-up on the back of two centuries for England Lions in August and good form on the county scene thereafter.
Bairstow, meanwhile, did not have an Ashes series to remember, struggling to just one half-century before being dropped for the final test in favour of Chris Woakes.
Ballance appears to be in line to possibly take over the number six slot in England's batting line-up, but he still believes the position is Bairstow's to lose.
"I was in the academy with him at Yorkshire for a year and we spent a lot of time together," he said of Bairstow.
"He's done well at Yorkshire and he's done well at England so it's probably his spot at the moment but he deserves it.
"I lived with him for a year – we're good mates so there won't be any animosity."
Ballance left Zimbabwe for England when he was only 16. He represented the African nation at under-19 level, but always dreamed of bigger things.
"I knew that if I wanted to play cricket that England would be the place to do it," he said. "It was in the interest of my career.
"I'd watched Ashes cricket as a youngster and I'd always dreamed of playing in that – it's the pinnacle of Test cricket.
"As a cricketer you grow up wanting to be involved in this kind of stuff. It was just a dream to get the call and quite a shock when I found out.
"I rang my parents straight away and I told a few of the lads and they were very pleased for me."
Ballance's England debut came in a one-day international against Ireland earlier this month. He was dismissed for a duck, but isn't about to let that failure affect him going forward.
"Obviously it didn't go as well as I'd hoped but at the end of the day we won the game," he said.
"It would have been nice to score a few runs but these things happen.
"I didn't really want to get myself too down about it – you get these things in cricket all the time, so you've got to pick yourself up.
"The next step up is going to be tough but if I get the chance I like to think I'm ready
"I've always dreamed of this opportunity and I'm really looking forward to it."
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