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