Jake Ball admits his first winter with the England Performance Programme, and now the Lions, was a step into the unknown – but there has been no shortage of familiar faces to make him feel at home.
Nottinghamshire Director of Cricket, Mick Newell, is in the UAE as an England Selector casting an eye over the squad of young hopefuls.
Academy wicketkeeper Tom Moores has also been in the UAE with England’s U19s - and he was being coached by Ball’s uncle, Bruce French.
“I suppose it is a bit unusual to be on tour with your uncle, but it was also really nice to have that familiar face,” said Ball.
“I thought he’d be out here, working with the main team and the wicketkeepers. It was nice to see how he works and how he goes about things.
“Before I came out here I didn’t know many of the lads that well so it was nice in the early days to have that familiar face to have a chat to.”
Ball’s fast bowling camp took him to South Africa, from where he went on to the UAE for a five match Twenty20 series against Pakistan A.
The competitive action saw him bowl impressively in each of the first two T20 matches against Pakistan A, taking four wickets and keeping things tight by varying his pace.
He had also shown his worth with the bat by hitting a match-winning boundary in the Lions’ last warm-up game against the UAE.
He was rested for the fourth match of the series on Sunday, but is hoping to be recalled for Wednesday’s decider.
“I’ve found it really enjoyable actually,” he said. “From being in South Africa with the EPP fast bowlers and then coming out here and getting stuck into a bit of T20 cricket.
“From start to finish it’s been really good and fortunately I’ve been able to put a few good performances in as well.
“T20 cricket is constantly developing and to get the chance to come out here and try my hand in a different environment has been really enjoyable. Hopefully I can just kick on from here.”
Ball will learn shortly after the end of this leg of the tour whether he will be returning in January for five 50-over matches against Pakistan A, also in Dubai.
England are returning to the scene of their Ashes triumph in 2016 for Royal London One-Day Internationals against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
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