Ballance hits fifty, says ready for Ashes debut

(Reuters) – 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 batsman 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 lineup 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 told reporters 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 24-year-old felt he had done enough to merit a test debut at Adelaide on Dec 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.

Australia won the first Ashes test in Brisbane by 381 runs.

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