‘Welbeck Wizard’ Jake Ball in line for recall to England Test team

ON THE BALL -- Nottinghamshire seamer Jake Ball, who could be on the brink of a return to the England Test team in Bangladesh and India this winter after impressing in one-day internationals. (PHOTO BY: Simon Trafford).
ON THE BALL -- Nottinghamshire seamer Jake Ball, who could be on the brink of a return to the England Test team in Bangladesh and India this winter after impressing in one-day internationals. (PHOTO BY: Simon Trafford).

Mansfield’s own Jake Ball could be in contention for a recall to England’s Test line-up after captain Alastair Cook hinted at changes to his side’s bowling line-up.

The tourists won the First Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong this week by 22 runs with the seam trio of Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes each impressing, despite an unresponsive surface.

However, with a gruelling schedule of six back-to-back Tests to come this side of Christmas, Cook is keen for rotation. And 25-year-old Nottinghamshire bowler Ball, who learned his trade with Welbeck Cricket Club, could cash in.

“I’m pretty sure there will be some changes,” said the skipper. “If we play the same side early on in the tour, we could have a lot of guys with not much cricket under their belts coming into a crucial Test a bit further down the line this winter in India.

“We were clear before we came out here that we would rotate, so I’d imagine there might be a couple of changes.”

Although Ball did his cause no harm with sparkling performances during the one-day international series that preceded the Test showdown, the 25-year-old ‘Welbeck Wizard’ is not the only pace bowler waiting in the wings.

Should the captain/coach duo of Cook and Trevor Bayliss opt for a solitary alteration, seasoned Middlesex pace bowler Steven Finn could equally be the man to benefit.

“It’s certainly more about rotation,” added Cook. “In an ideal world, we don’t want to get to India with people having not played much cricket.

“There are some fine players who didn’t make this team and, with how hot it is and energy levels, to not be playing all seven Test matches will freshen things up. It’s certainly more on the bowling side to start with.”

The possibility of a rotated bowling unit could keep Ball’s fellow Notts paceman, Broad, waiting for his 100th Test cap.

However, Cook admits it’s likely that England will resist the temptation to select a fourth spinner in Surrey all-rounder Zafar Ansari.

“We’d have loved to have the fourth spinner when it was turning,” Cook said. “But Bangladesh are used to these conditions. They play spin very well.

“It’s nice having that extra seamer for our side. When it does reverse, you can keep the pressure on for longer.

“It just suits us at the moment. Yes, there was a time when I was thinking I’d love another spinner. But you can’t have everything, can you?”

Ball has enjoyed a wonderful couple of years in which his career, both at Notts and with England, has taken off in spectacular style.

Impressive displays last term and early this season for the Trent Bridge strugglers captured the imagination of the England selectors, and he made his Test debut at Lord’s against Pakistan in June, taking a wicket.

He has not played a Test match since, but he has been a regular member of the squad and shone in three one-day internationals against Bangladesh earlier this month, returning fine figures of 5-51 from 9.5 overs on his debut at Dhaka, which helped England to a 22-run victory. His performamce earned him the man-of-the-match award and won rave reviews in the media.