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Ballance happy to dig out "hard runs"

Gary Ballance will gladly battle for every one of his runs in this Investec Ashes Series if it means England regain the little urn.

Ballance displayed all of his grafting qualities when he dug out a vitally important 60 in the first innings as he and Joe Root performed an early rescue act.

The Yorkshiremen shared a 153-run stand, after being thrust together at 43 for three, and while the in-form Root was at his fluent best Ballance admitted he had found the going tougher.

“I did. Rooty made it look easy out there and I had to battle through – sometimes that’s how it is,” he told ecb.co.uk.

“Sometimes you’ve got to score the hard runs but I’m happy with that and take a few blows on the body.

“It’s just good to get a score in the game and hopefully set myself up for the series.”

Ballance has shown during his Test career he is far more than just a grafter - he has four centuries in 14 matches at an average of 47.53 - but he had endured a lean spell heading into the series.

It was, therefore, testament to his character and technique that he was able to dig out those “hard runs” and help turn the game England’s way when required.

“It felt like it was doing a bit early on, as it does first day of a Test match,” he added.

“We ground it out and to get a 60 in the first innings of a series was quite important for me and, as a team, the partnership was good and Rooty ended up getting a hundred which gave us that big first-innings score.”

Victory was Ballance’s first in an Ashes Test after his only previous experience against Australia in the five-day game was the defeat in Sydney to complete the previous series Down Under.

The size of that reverse had many pundits suggesting England faced a tough task of winning back the Ashes, but Ballance believes the 169-run win has provided a new-look team with the confidence to attack the rest of the series.

“It’s a great feeling. I played one game before this and losing in three days wasn’t easy but then to come here, first game of the series it was very important to start well, and we’ve done that,” he said.

“We’ve put in a great performance and to get a win here is brilliant and we can take the momentum into Lord’s.

“It was important to start well. We needed to start well to get a bit of momentum going through the rest of the series so to go 1-0 up is always good.

“It’s a five-match series and we’re going to have to kick on from here and hopefully we can start well at Lord’s.”