First England call-up for Welbeck and Notts ace Jake Ball

Jake Ball.
PHOTOGRAPHER: MARK FEAR
Jake Ball. PHOTOGRAPHER: MARK FEAR

Nottinghamshire fast bowler Jake Ball has earned his first senior international call-up after being named in England’s squad for the first Investec Test against Sri Lanka.

The 25-year-old, who learned his trade at Nottinghamshire Premier League club Welbeck, is joined in the first squad of the English summer by his county teammates Stuart Broad and Alex Hales for the match at Headingley on Thursday, May 19.

After claiming 65 scalps across all competitions in 2015, Ball has continued his fine form by topping the wicket taking charts in this season’s Specsavers County Championship Division One so far with 19.

Ball, who made his Nottinghamshire first team debut back in 2009 and has since amassed over 90 appearances in all competitions for the county, was awarded his county cap this month.

He enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2015, taking 65 wickets in all competitions and earning his maiden call-ups for the England Lions in both 20 and 50 over cricket.

Ball learned his cricket at Welbeck under the tutelage of uncles Joe, Charlie, Neil and David French, his family history with the club going back three generations.

His grandfather Maurice is a former all-rounder who was groundsman when Ball was in his formative years.

Another more famous uncle, Bruce French, began his career at Welbeck before going on to play for Notts and 16 Tests for England.

A Welbeck spokesman said: “Everyone one at the club is delighted with Jake’s call up and wish him the very best of luck.”

Notts teammate Hales is in line to continue his opening partnership with captain Alastair Cook after being ever present across the four matches in South Africa, including a maiden half-century in the drawn Second Test at Cape Town.

Broad, meanwhile, was instrumental in the triumph, taking 18 wickets at an average 20.61, including 6-17 as England skittled the hosts for 83 in Johannesburg to secure the series.

Hampshire’s James Vince was the only other uncapped player named in the party alongside Ball, and National Selector James Whitaker believes the duo have earned their opportunity in the five day arena.

“Both Jake Ball and James Vince thoroughly deserve their opportunity having performed well with the England Lions and starting the season in good form with their respective counties,” said Whitaker.

“Building on his success with the Lions in the winter, Jake has impressed with the ball and shown excellent control and skill in the opening matches of the County Championship. If selected, we are confident he will perform very well at international level.

“James has been a consistent performer for Hampshire and England Lions over the past few years. He is already well regarded by the England coaches in the short format and now has the opportunity to showcase his skills at Test level.

“Sri Lanka are a young side and we expect a strong series between the two teams to start the summer of international cricket.

“The selectors would like to take this opportunity to wish Alastair Cook, Trevor Bayliss and the rest of the squad the best of luck for the series.”

England first Test squad to face Sri Lanka (from): Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Stuart Broad, Nick Compton, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and James Vince.