2016 can definitely be called a breakthrough year for Jake Ball.
The Nottinghamshire fast bowler built on strong performances both for county and for the England Lions the previous year to stake his claim for a place in the England squad.
Speaking at Nottinghamshire CCC’s annual pre-season press day, the ‘Welbeck Wizard’ spoke about his personal highlights for the year, and what he hopes 2017 has in store for him.
Ball said: “Making my Test debut for England, and then my ODI debut in the winter, were the high points of the year for me. Starting the season for Nottinghamshire as well as I did, then getting to play for England was a massive highlight.”
Ball took 19 wickets at an average of 21.15 at the start of the 2016 season.
This led to a first call-up to the England test squad in May last year for the series against Sri Lanka.
He would have to wait a couple of months, but his excellent form was rewarded with a test debut against Pakistan at Lord’s in July, taking the first innings wicket of Azhar Ali to open his international account.
Following this, Ball was included in the ODI squad to face Bangladesh in the winter, and made his debut in the first match of the series.
He produced a man of the match display, taking 5-51 with the ball as England won by 21 runs, becoming the first Englishman to take five wickets on their ODI debut.
Looking forward to the 2017 season, Ball has kept his goals relatively simple.
He said: “I think my main aim is just to kick on again and get better.
“I’ve improved my game a lot over the winter, and I’ll be looking to take what I’ve learned and continue to get better.
“The ultimate goal would be to cement my place in the England side, and hopefully be on the plane to Australia in the winter.”
With the ICC Champions Trophy being held on home soil this June, and the upcoming Ashes series in Australia, there are plenty of chances for Ball to prove himself on the world stage.
He is just starting his international career, but there can be no doubt that he is someone that will continue to be part of England squads for some time yet.