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Tykes boosted by double batsman boost
Yorkshire have been handed a major boost with the news that key batting duo Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow are set to be available for the rest of the county season after missing out on England calls.
On the eve of the top of the table County Championship meeting with Durham at Scarborough today, Ballance was called into England's one-day international squad for Tuesday's game with Ireland at Malahide, a day when Yorkshire do not play.
But the in-form left-hander was not selected in the squad for the forthcoming five-match series against Australia, which runs between September 6 and 16.
Bairstow was also left out of both squads having not played a one-day international in almost a year. Joe Root is in the latter.
The only ways this could change is because of injuries or an excellent performance from Ballance against the Irish forces the selectors to have a rethink.
After a summer of being hit by international calls at a number of levels, Yorkshire have benefitted at just the right time with the side sitting 25.5 points clear of Durham in second, who have a game in hand and five to play.
Ballance missed Yorkshire's ten-wicket win against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge last week due to Lions commitments, while Bairstow scored an excellent first-innings 62 after rejoining his county following his omission from the fifth Ashes Test.
The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman has now been urged to concentrate fully on Yorkshire matters and let the rest take care of itself.
Coach Jason Gillespie said: "Whenever Jonny plays for Yorkshire, he's a very important player both with the gloves and batting very positively to move the game forward. We're looking forward to having him.
"We had a chat about it (England), and I told him that all he could do is go out and perform as well as he can for Yorkshire. I told him to show them how good he is.
"He did that against Notts - he changed the momentum of the game. What you want in first-class cricket are players that change momentum in your team, and Jonny certainly really helped us with that."
Gillespie has a major selection headache today. He has named seven frontline batsmen in his squad, with only six places available.
Captain Andrew Gale, Ballance and Bairstow are certain to play. It would be a big call to leave out overseas batsman Kane Williamson, as it would Adam Lyth, who scored 95 at Trent Bridge.
The most likely candidates to miss out are Alex Lees or Phil Jaques. There is also a case, depending on the pitch, to leave out Adil Rashid and use Williamson's part-time off-spin.
Yorkshire go into this match as clear title favourites. But a win for Durham would change the picture significantly.
"If we do win the game, which would be absolutely fantastic, it puts us in a really strong position, there's no denying that," added Gillespie. "But there's a lot of cricket to play. We know we can't afford to take our foot off the gas even for half an hour, and that's what we keep reiterating to the lads."
Yorkshire 14 v Durham: Gale (c), Bairstow, Ballance, Brooks, Hodd, Jaques, Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Pyrah, Rashid, Sidebottom, Williamson.