Quick single: Ballance’s bat
Gary Ballance’s virtues are found in terms of outputs, not process. Four hundreds and four fifties in his first ten Test matches make him one of the faster starters of England batsmen at this stage of their career.
He isn’t elegant. Amongst the many left-handers who defy the stereotype of graceful shot-making he doesn’t repel the eye as much as, say, Graeme Smith or Kepler Wessels. But it’s solid, focused, unexceptional batting at which he excels.
Now, in this series in the West Indies, he’s starting to look scruffy – because of his bat. Last summer, his New Balance blade was clear, pale willow. Then, it was his cheeks that attracted comment for their rosiness. His newer New Balance bat looks like it has been used to protect him from assault by flying tomatoes. Bright red splodges from one edge to the other, thickly spread from splice to an inch above the toe of the bat.
To his credit, there’s something honest and straightforward about leaving the marks where they appear on the bat. I have been known to sand-off those close to the edges of my bat. Perhaps the appearance of Ballance’s bat is a sign that he is free of any such insecurities about his own batting.