After a long wait to secure first-team cricket, Ballance showed his capabilities as a powerful middle-order batsman in all formats in 2011.
The Zimbabwe-born left-hander, nephew of former Derbyshire director of cricket David Houghton, played five youth one-day internationals for Zimbabwe in February 2006 but then came to Britain to qualify to play for England.
He contributed a score of 166 for Derbyshire's Second XI in 2007 but, after finding first-team opportunities hard to come by, rejected an improved deal to sign an academy contract with Yorkshire.
After limited appearances in the White Rose first-team, Ballance earned his place in the side in 2011 after some stunning pre-season form.
He lit up a woeful campaign for Yorkshire, which resulted in LV= County Championship relegation, by hitting 862 runs at an average of 47 in 12 first-class matches, and proved his worth as an aggressive performer in the limited-overs formats.
In 2012 Ballance shone brightest in the Clydesdale Bank 40 with 499 runs at an average of 58.62, but also helped Yorkshire reach the final of the Friends Life t20 and achieve championship promotion. He was rewarded with a place on the England Performance Programme.
Going from strength to strength thereafter, he illustrated his maturity by ending as the most prolific batsman in Division One of the championship with 1,251 runs at an average of 62.55.
His performances did not go unnoticed, Ballance earning a place in England's Ashes and one-day squads for the tour to Australia.