England Test hopeful Gary Ballance has top-scored with 55 in the touring team’s 7-212 declared against a Chairman’s XI.
Gary Ballance has declared he’s ready to become England’s next African-born Test batsman after scoring a patient 55 in the tour match against a Chairman’s XI.
England declared on 7-212 late on Friday’s day one of the two-day match in sweltering conditions at Traeger Park in Alice Springs.
The home side will resume on Saturday’s final day of play on 0-16 with Steve Cazzulino five and Marcus Harris 10.
“It would be a great feeling but I don’t really want to look too far ahead,” Zimbabwe-born Ballance told a news conference.
“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.”
It was a timely knock from the stocky left-hander Ballance.
England need to adjust their batting lineup for next week’s second Test in Adelaide following the withdrawal of South Africa-born No.3 Jonathan Trott from the rest of the Ashes series with a stress-related illness.
Ballance outshone selection rivals Jonny Bairstow (31 not out) and the uncapped Ben Stokes (28) on Friday, but will it be enough?
“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,” Ballance added.
Sent in to bat by Chairman’s XI captain Michael Beer, the tourists had slumped to 6-149 before Bairstow and Graeme Swann (29) added 49 for the seventh wicket.
With temperatures in the mid-30s on Friday and a top of 39 forecast for Saturday, the Red Centre has turned out a hot welcome for the tourists.
England were made to scrap hard with the bat despite the home side having no current Sheffield Shield players in their 12-man lineup.
Michael Carberry (six), Joe Root (22) and Matt Prior (19) all fell before lunch.
The 24-year-old Yorkshireman Ballance, who represented Zimbabwe at Under-19 World Cup level aged 16, was run out at 5-146 after a mix-up with Ian Bell.
Bell was out three runs later for 13 as 21-year-old Western Australia rookie seamer Mackin (2-32) claimed his second scalp. NSW Second XI wicketeeper/batsman Jake Doran, 16, picked up two catches behind the stumps.
Former sushi-delivery man Mackin said it was an awesome experience to play against stars like Bell.
Ballance and Mackin both felt the lush outfield had made scoring difficult.
“In that respect they won’t be too disappointed. They didn’t bat too badly,” Mackin said.