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County comes first for Yorkshire cricket skipper Gary Ballance

Cricket: News, reports and more.
Cricket: News, reports and more.

Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance will put county before country this summer in his bid to win an England recall.

Ballance was overlooked for Australia’s Ashes tour last winter and left out altogether for the following Test series in New Zealand. But the batsman is determined to add to his 23 Test appearances and insists he will improve his chances by getting his priorities right.

“I obviously want to play for England again,” Ballance said. “But there have been times when I’ve been focusing too much on trying to get back in the England team and not focused on trying to score runs for Yorkshire. So long as I do that, then the other stuff will take care of itself.”

Ballance has been twice recalled after being dropped by England before, while his latest comeback was ended by a bouncer from Morne Morkel last summer, which broke his index finger during the second Test against South Africa.

For now, Ballance has his hands full with Yorkshire as he embarks on his second season as skipper having been appointed in December 2016.

Yorkshire - back-to-back County Championship winners in 2014 and 2015 - ensured their Division One status in the final game last season, made a group-stage exit in the T20 Blast and were knocked out of the One-Day Cup in the quarter-finals.

“Last year was tough,” Ballance said. “It was a definite learning curve for me and definitely a challenge, but I enjoy that.

“We could have had a better year last year, but as a group we all know that and we’ve worked hard in the winter to try and improve. I think we can put that right this year.

“We want to be winning trophies, but there’s a lot of hard work that goes in to do that.

“You can’t focus too far ahead, you have to focus on the job in hand and as a group, if we can be a bit more consistent this year, we will be challenging for those trophies.

“We’ve definitely got the talent. All our batters have scored big runs before.

“They know they can do it. It’s just trying to put it together as a team and being a bit more consistent as a team.”