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Ball is aiming to prove his class against Aussies

 

By David Clough

Jake Ball is out to prove himself in Australia after returning to full fitness in the nick of time for an Ashes debut.

Ball made a brief but lasting impression at the start of the tour before straining ankle ligaments when he lost his footing in his delivery stride earlier in the month.

The 26-year-old seamer insists he is "fully fit" again and intends to vindicate glowing reports from coach Trevor Bayliss and others that he was shaping up as potentially England's best bowler in these conditions.

All indications from the tourists' camp are that Ball will play in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane on Thursday, preferred to uncapped Craig Overton as England's fourth seamer.

In just three Tests to date, set a thankless task in two against India in Mumbai and Chennai last year, Ball has so far taken just two wickets at the unflattering average of 114 each.

But back in a country he has previously savoured, albeit at club level, he believes he can help England upset the odds.

"I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "It's a massive game, a massive series (and) I think we've got a great chance.

"If you go through (the two sides) and look one by one against each other, then I think we just edge it.

"Our team vibe has been amazing, so come the first day I think we're going to hit the ground running and hope to surprise a few people."

To do so, they will have to handle the famed Gabba hostility - from both sides of the rope - and Ball is confident he can do that too.

"Personally, I think you have to let a little bit in," he said. "You have to enjoy it, the banter, and use it to your advantage and let it drive you on. I'm going to go out and enjoy every minute."

He can do so with the freedom of someone who, just for a second, wondered if his tour was over almost before it began 10 days ago.

Asked if he feared his Ashes were done in Adelaide, he said: "Yes, for a split second. I think I had my eyes closed and was (thinking), 'Does it hurt?'

"It did at the time but I managed to get a bit of movement while I was out there and walking off didn't seem too bad.

"The medical staff have been amazing, and sorted me out."

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