INDIA’S TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2018
Ball made his T20I debut in the series against India earlier this month. © Getty
England seamer Jake Ball is hoping to use the upcoming ODI series against India to press his claims for next year’s World Cup as well as a return to England’s Test team.
It has been a stop-start year in international cricket for Ball, who made his T20I debut in the second match of the recent series against India. He played one game during the recent ODI series against Australia, his first match in that format since January, and has not played a Test since the first game of the Ashes series last November.
In the Test arena, the likes of Tom and Sam Curran have overtaken him while in the white-ball squad, he is currently behind Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and David Willey. Ball has, however, been included in the 50-over squad for the three match series against Virat Kohli’s men and with Chris Woakes and Tom Curran out injured and Ben Stokes working back to full fitness, there could be opportunities.
“When you get your opportunity you have to take it,” Ball said. “I got one game in the Australia series and felt like I came in and did well on a decent pitch at Old Trafford. I have to show what I can offer the team. That’s all I can do, put my name forward and try to make myself undroppable. That’s the only way to keep your place.”
It was a disappointing winter for the Nottinghamshire pacer. He was dropped after the first Test of the Ashes in Brisbane after rushing back from an injury sustained in the warm-up games. Before the injury, he was England’s most in-form bowler but he wasn’t seen again in the Ashes as Craig Overton and Curran were preferred.
He started the season well for his county, taking 27 wickets at 18.33 in five Championship matches, and hopes to use the upcoming match against Surrey to press his claims for a Test berth against India. “I got the start to the season I wanted, being the leading wicket-taker in the country,” Ball said.
“Since then we’ve had some time away from the red-ball with the 50-over comp and being involved with England. At the end of this month we have a Championship game against Surrey so it’ll be nice to pull the whites on and try to put my name forward for the first couple of Test against India.”
First of all, however, it’s the ODI series against India and the prospect of bowling in the first match on Thursday (July 12) at his home ground, Trent Bridge, where England amassed a world-record 481 against Australia a few weeks ago. How the heck do you bowl there?
“That’s a tough one,” Ball said. “As a bowling unit at Notts we talk about not letting an over get away from you. You know there will be boundaries, you know that when the infield is beaten it will be four with short boundaries and a rapid outfield.
“But if you go for a boundary or two early it’s about not letting an over slipping away. Keep it down to, say, 12 from the over rather than 15 or 20. If you can manage things over the course of an innings it makes a big difference and keeps the score down. That’s worked well for us in T20 cricket, and it’s a batter’s paradise in 50-overs cricket too.”
After their defeat in the T20I series, England are looking to keep their impressive form going in the ODI series. India are likely to be their main challengers for next year’s World Cup but Ball says England aren’t looking too far ahead yet. “We are just trying to focus on every game as it comes, learn from every one we play and all those cliches really,” he said.
“Not looking too far ahead. We know as a team that we are in a really good place, but that there’s still a long way to the World Cup. We are looking at this India series, focussing on that and Trent Bridge on Thursday.”