Gary’s role is in the Bal­lance ahead of sec­ond Ashes Test

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

GARY BAL­LANCE struck a pa­tient half-cen­tury against a Cricket Aus­tralia Chair­man’s XI yes­ter­day and de­clared he was ready for his Test de­but in the sec­ond Ashes match at Ade­laide.

Top- or­der bat Jonathan Trott’s abrupt exit to deal with stress- re­lated is­sues has opened up a three-horse race for the num­ber six slot in Eng­land’s bat­ting line-up and Zim­babwe-born Bal­lance made the most of his au­di­tion at Alice Springs.

Bal­lance hit 55 off 134 balls with five bound­aries to top­score for the visi­tors, who de­clared on 212 for seven wick­ets in the two- day prac­tice match at Trae­gar Park.

Ben Stokes (28) could not con­vert the start into some­thing big, while Jonny Bairstow, the other can­di­date for the va­cant bat­ting slot, was un­beaten on 31 when the dec­la­ra­tion came.

“It would be a great feel­ing but I don’t re­ally want to look too far ahead,” Bal­lance said of his pos­si­ble Test de­but.

“Af­ter those few low scores at the be­gin­ning of the tour, I’ve worked hard in the nets and if that chance does come up... I think I’ll be ready.”

Bal­lance was run out af­ter a mix-up with Ian Bell, but the 24year- old felt he had done enough to merit a Test de­but at Ade­laide on De­cem­ber 5.

“I’d like to think so. To be able to get a 50 to­day... I’ve given my­self a bit of con­fi­dence so if I do get picked I think I’ll be ready,” he added.

Tim Bres­nan will re­join Eng­land’s Ashes squad af­ter an en­cour­ag­ing per­for­mance in his first game back from a stress frac­ture in his back.

The York­shire pace­man helped to de­fend 18 runs from the last six overs as the Eng­land Per­for­mance Pro­gramme played out to a thrilling draw with Queens­land Sec­ond XI at Bris­bane’s Al­lan Bor­der Field.

Chas­ing an im­prob­a­ble 422 to win, the hosts got close thanks in part to 100 from open­ing bats­man Joe Burns.

The Queens­land sec­ond­stringers had three wick­ets left go­ing into the clos­ing overs, but came up eight runs short.

Bres­nan, al­though wick­et­less in the sec­ond in­nings, used his ex­pe­ri­ence to be the EPP’s most eco­nom­i­cal bowler, con­ced­ing just 41 runs off his 16 overs in­clud­ing five maidens.

It was the bowl­ing all­rounder’s first game since suf­fer­ing a stress frac­ture of the lower back in Au­gust.

Bres­nan, who hit 57 not out and took 4/ 31 in the first in­nings, will now re­join the Ashes squad.

Bres­nan’s re­turn could be a bonus for Eng­land, whose third seamer Chris Trem­lett failed to im­press in the heavy first Test loss to Aus­tralia.

Bres­nan, who has taken 67 Test wick­ets, was di­ag­nosed with a stress frac­ture in his lower back af­ter Eng­land beat Aus­tralia in Durham dur­ing the re­cent Ashes 3-0 se­ries win.

Aus­tralia pace­man James Pat­tin­son will make a ten­ta­tive re­turn to cricket when he lines up for Mel­bourne club Dan­de­nong this weekend, rais­ing his hopes of tak­ing part in the Ashes af­ter be­ing side­lined with a back in­jury.

“We can con­firm he is re­turn­ing as a bats­man only at this stage. He has a care­fully mapped out re­turn for the month of De­cem­ber and we can re­assess af­ter that pe­riod,” Pat Howard, Cricket Aus­tralia’s high-per­for­mance man­ager, said on the gov­ern­ing body’s web­site on Fri­day. – AFP

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