The England cricket team’s selectors made a surprise selection of batsman Gary Ballance and bowler Toby Roland-Jones which duly shocked them. Both are in the 12 men squad for the first Test against Pakistan, starting on July 14.
Ballance returns to England squad after one year of sabbatical. He last played against Australia in 2015 Ashes. In 2016 playing for Yorkshire county scored a brilliant hundred that ensured his pace in the team. But 28-year-old Toby Ronald Jones has received the England call for the first time in his career.
ECB selector James Whitaker told them they were picked for the first Test after a selection meeting at the Lord’s. Jos Butt;er and Ben Stokes were dropped from the team as they are recovering from their respective injury.
Roland-Jones said, “I was taken aback at first.”
“Obviously, you strive for things like this, but it’s not something I’d been thinking about at all. I got a call from James Whitaker at my flat. I missed the call at first because I was in the shower and picked up a voicemail. It intimated that there was good news. I took a little while to phone him back and compose myself. It was very nice to hear from him. It was hard to know how to react when you’re by yourself in your flat. But I’ve had a big grin on my face,” Jones said with pleasure in his eyes.
On the other hand, Ballance, who was dropped from the team after Australia bruised England at the Lord’s, returned to the England ranks during England’s South Africa tour but didn’t get a chance to play a Test. At home, during the Sri Lanka series, he was a part of the squad.
But when he received the call from Whitaker, Ballance was surprised as he was then at a grocery shop.
“I was just doing a bit of grocery shopping when I got the call from James Whitaker – just a standard Thursday morning and it’s all come as a bit of a surprise,” he said.
“Obviously, it’s a great feeling to be back in the squad, especially when you’ve been out of the side for a while. I’ve had some time away, the chance to work on my game, and I feel like I’ve got back to where I want to be. To be fair I’ve felt good the last few weeks. I’ve been playing well, just not got that big score that gets you noticed. But I was happy with the way I played there (against Middlesex), especially getting a century, and spending a long time in the middle.”
Jones is playing county cricket for the last six years. Jones has a bowling action similar to former England cricketer, Angus Fraser who is the Middlesex director of cricketer and current England selector.
“This season and last is the most consistent I’ve performed, and I feel I’ve found an identity with my bowling. It’s nice to feel there’s a confidence in what I do and in my skills. It’s about knowing the kind of bowler you are,” he said. “Some pride themselves on being strike bowlers who are prepared to go for a few runs but take wickets. Others keep it tight. I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m not a contained but I like to think I offer consistency.”