Gary Ballance is backing West Indies Test opener Kraigg Brathwaite to shine during his short overseas spell with Yorkshire.
Brathwaite has signed on for the final two Specsavers County Championship matches of the summer, starting against bottom side Warwickshire at Headingley next Tuesday.
The 24-year-old will replace Shaun Marsh, who plays against Surrey at the Oval tomorrow before returning home to Perth to prepare for Western Australia’s domestic summer.
White Rose captain Ballance knows all about Brathwaite.
He played against him in the drawn three-match Test series in the Caribbean at the start of 2015 when Brathwaite scored a second-innings century in the second Test, which the hosts lost.
And he watched the right-hander score 134 and 95 in the West Indies’ win over England at Headingley at the end of last month.
“Kraigg’s a good player, a gutsy player,” said Ballance, who will welcome Brathwaite into the squad later this week.
“I think that will be good for us, especially in conditions here.
“He will put a massive price on his wicket. The bowler will have to get him out.
“It’s just been one of those years for us where a few lads have been out of form. We haven’t quite gelled, but we showed what we can do against Middlesex.
“When we bat well as a unit, we can put scores on the board. Hopefully that will give us confidence for the rest of the season.
“I played against him in the West Indies and he got runs there as well as a few at Headingley the other week.
“He’s an international player who has done very well at Test-match level.”
Although Barbados-born Brathwaite’s stay with Yorkshire will be brief this season, it could be the start of a longer-term relationship.
Yorkshire’s director of cricket Martyn Moxon admitted in the press release revealing the signing that the player could return to Headingley next season given the West Indies have little cricket to clash with the 2018 English summer.
“It’s so hard to get that calibre of player for a long period of time these days, so it would be nice to have someone like him around for longer,” said Ballance.
“Hopefully he will go well like our other overseas players have.
“We’ve had some good experienced players, which has been helpful. It will be massive for him coming back to Headingley knowing he’s scored runs before. That always helps.
“From watching him bat and playing against him, I know he’s a quality player. I’m sure he will do a good job for us.”
Ballance heads to the Oval buoyed by previous success there. In 2013, he scored 148 and 108 not out in a high-scoring end of season draw. The day before the game, he was selected on the winter Ashes tour and debuted in the last Test at Sydney.
“I’ve had good experiences there in the past, I’ve got a few runs there,” he added. “I’m really looking forward to playing down there again.”
Fifth-placed Yorkshire, level on points with Middlesex in sixth, are 13 points clear of second-bottom Somerset with three to play. Yorkshire will be without Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and David Willey because of England limited-overs duty. Opener Adam Lyth is a doubt because of the imminent arrival of his first child.