The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Sports Editor
ZIMBABWE born former England batsman, Gary Ballance has switched his allegiance to the country of his birth after agreeing a two-year deal with Zimbabwe Cricket.
On Thursday, Ballance ended his 15-year flirtation with English county side Yorkshire after both parties agreed to terminate his contract by mutual consent.
As was expected, ZC have announced that Ballance will now turn out for Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) is delighted to announce Gary Ballance has agreed a two-year contract to play domestic and international cricket in and for the country of his birth. This follows the Harare-born left-handed batter’s release from his contract with county cricket side Yorkshire,’’ announced ZC.
Balance, a left-handed batsman appeared in 23 Tests for England from 2014 to 2017. He scored four centuries for the Three Lions at an average of 37.45 with a best score of 156 runs. The batsman also played 16 One Day Internationals for England with his highest score being 79.
Prior to moving to England, Ballance had starred for Zimbabwe at the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2006 while still a schoolboy at Peterhouse Boys School in Marondera.
Commenting after ZC contracted Ballance, now aged 33, ZC director of cricket Hamilton Masakadza said: “We are elated to have Gary, an immensely talented and experienced cricketer, back home where it all started for him.
“He is a great addition to our domestic and international set-up and we are looking forward to him making a massive difference for us.”
The player himself said he was excited to get the opportunity to represent Zimbabwe.
“I’m thrilled to be joining Zimbabwe Cricket and can’t wait to start work with some great coaches and talented players,” Ballance said.
“The opportunity to represent Zimbabwe has given me a new-found passion and excitement for the game.
“I have kept in touch with a number of people within Zimbabwe cricket over the years and it has been great to watch their recent progress especially.”
Balance is nephew of Dave Houghton, the national team coach and it is no doubt that this played a part in convincing him to give up his hopes of ever playing for England and make himself available for Zimbabwe.
The batsman should be available when Zimbabwe face Ireland in white ball cricket and when they take on the West Indies in two Tests next month.
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