For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Gary can offer England the right Ballance Down Under
Gary Ballance believes he can force his way into England's Test team this winter after earning his maiden Ashes call-up alongside Yorkshire team-mates Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root.
The left-handed batsman, born in Zimbabwe, has been rewarded for an excellent summer in the LV= County Championship, which currently sees him with 995 runs from 13 matches at an average of 52.36.
The 23-year-old, who made his England one-day debut against Ireland earlier this month, has scored three 100s and six 50s in four-day cricket for his county in 2013.
Tim Bresnan misses out on selection due to his stress fracture of the back, but the all-rounder will travel to Australia to continue his rehabilitation under the supervision of the England medical team.
Opening batsman Alex Lees, aged 20, is in the England Performance Programme squad, which will shadow the Ashes squad for a month in Brisbane and Perth.
Ironically, it looks like Ballance will be in competition with Bairstow for the number six spot ahead the first Test at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 21. England's first match on tour is against Western Australia on October 31.
Bairstow was left out of the last Test of the summer at the Oval last month, but his replacement Chris Woakes has not been named in squad.
"It was quite a big surprise, and it still hasn't really sunk in. But it's a great feeling. I can't wait. It's an experience I'm really looking forward to," said Ballance. "I got a phone call from (national selector) Geoff Miller to let me know on Sunday morning.
"There are plenty of guys in there already who have done well, but I've just got to work hard over the first month, look to carry on what I've done for Yorkshire and you never know. A lot can happen.
"It is a long tour, and an Ashes tour will be hard work. But I'm quite prepared to do the hard work. We'll see where that takes me.
"Jonny has done well in that spot (number six) for the last year or so, and we're big mates. It will definitely be a friendly rivalry."
Ballance toured Australia with the Lions last year when they played a series of one-day matches against Australia A, and he continued: "I've played in their conditions, so if I do get in the team, that can only help me."
England head to Australia having won the last three Ashes series, including a 3-0 success this summer. Despite the commanding scoreline, Australia certainly had their moments of dominance in the series, and a much closer contest is expected in their own back yard.
And Ballance added: "Australia will come at us hard, we know that. And it's not an easy place to go and win a series. We'll have to put in a lot of hard work in weeks leading up to the first Test."
Left-handed Lees and the Performance Programme party leave for Australia on November 14.
Yorkshire's director of professional cricket Martyn Moxon added: "Gary has been in England's thoughts for quite some time.
"He has been one of the standout batsmen in the Championship. He will relish playing at the next level. He has the right temperament to be very successful.
"He is a great example that if you work hard on your game, you can achieve anything. The hard work for him will start now, but I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes part of the England set-up for many years to come."