By Mike Berriman
Gary Ballance was made to be the scapegoat for England’s fragile top order yesterday, with fellow Yorkshire batsman Johnny Bairstow being brought in as his replacement.
Bairstow’s inclusion comes as no surprise with the batsman averaging more than 100 in county cricket this year, and his series-clinching cameo at the end of the ODI series against New Zealand still fresh in the minds of the selectors.
Ballance was one of three players all up for the chop, and Adam Lyth and Ian Bell can count themselves incredibly fortunate to be in the squad to face Australia in the third test.
Much has been made of Ballance’s lack of foot-movement, especially against the blistering pace of Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson, but his dogged knock in the first test when his team were 43-3 was crucial in England taking a 1-0 victory over the tourists.
Bairstow is more than competent with the gloves which will be a worry for Jos Butler. The Lancashire wicketkeeper-batsman has also struggled for runs this series and question marks remain over whether he can transfer his talents from the shorter format of the game to the test arena.