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Ballance eager for Test opportunity

Gary Ballance reflects on his 55 and his prospects for the second Ashes Test

Gary Ballance is confident he will be ready for a Test debut next week if called upon after hitting his maiden half-century for England.

The 24-year-old top-scored on day one of two against a Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI  with 55 as England made 212 for seven declared at Traeger Park.

Ballance was joined by Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow, who hit an unbeaten 31, and Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes, with a fluent 28, in scoring handy runs as the trio staked their claims for Jonathan Trott's vacant spot in the side for the second Test at Adelaide next week.

Ballance hopes his performance has boosted his chances of making a Test debut.

"It would have been nice to push on and get a hundred ... but I've given myself that bit of confidence so that, if I do get picked, I think I'll be ready," he said.

Gary Ballance gets some advice from Alastair Cook during day one of England's clash with a Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI "It'd be a great feeling but I don't want to look too far ahead."

His near three-hour fifty in Alice Springs was hard earned as the home attack found plenty of early movement after putting the tourists in on a typically sweltering day. It put behind him a dispiriting sequence of nought, nought and four in his only previous innings for England.

Ballance, who enjoyed a stellar season for Yorkshire in the LV= County Championship, admitted to feeling the pressure following those low scores but soon hit his stride today.

He said: "It might affect you a little bit; that's how it works in cricket. After a few low scores, you kind of take a bit of time to get used to the situation.

"But once I'd batted for a few overs, I felt a bit more comfortable - like it was any other innings.

"It's obviously frustrating not getting scores, after the decent season I had in England, but I knew if I worked hard in the nets and had the opportunity I could score some runs.

"It might be a little bit of a relief, but you're going to go through patches where you get a few low scores. I (still) felt confident coming into the game."

Ballance, eventually run out after a mix-up with stand-in captain Ian Bell, could have been forgiven early nerves.

But he said: "You've just got to take it as any other game, especially with not having much time in the middle since I've been here.

"The new ball did a bit, and they bowled well and got the ball to seam a bit. Once the ball got a bit softer, it became a lot better to bat on.

"Just to be able to bat for a few hours out in the middle gives me some confidence."

Joe Root did not take to the field in the evening session as the hosts reached 16 for none at the close. The batsman is suffering with an upset stomach but is expected to recover quickly.

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