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  • England Lions 2m

    Westley hits ton as England Lions draw with South Africa

    Essex batsman impresses while Gary Ballance makes half-century ahead of next week's Lord's Test.

    Essex batsman Tom Westley compiled a fluent century for England Lions as their three-day friendly with South Africa at Worcester drifted up a cul-de-sac on the final day.

    With the rain-affected match already sentenced to a draw, South Africa declared their first innings overnight at 382 for four, giving their bowlers a chance to get some overs under their belts ahead of the opening Test against England at Lord's next Thursday.

    It also gave Lions batsmen Gary Ballance and Keaton Jennings, included in the Test squad, a chance to have a look at the tourists' bowlers from 22 yards.  

    Both made some runs - Ballance 56 off 140 balls with six fours and Jennings 39 from 66 balls and eight fours) - but it was 28-year-old Westley who impressed most, advancing to his 18th first-class century and finishing with an unbeaten 106 from 161 balls with 20 fours as the Lions closed on 266 for four.

    For South Africa it was a solid, if low-key, workout in the sunshine. New Road looked its customary picture, albeit with its traditional tranquillity invaded for an hour in the morning by a coastguard helicopter hovering above the cathedral on a medical mission. The chopper eventually departed but the cricket remained soporific.

    Jennings looked in good nick in the morning as he took the more assertive role in an opening stand of 71 in 21 overs with Sam Robson. Of his 39 runs, 32 came in boundaries before he played down the wrong line to the fifth ball of Morne Morkel's second spell and lost his off-stump.

    Westley's arrival sparked the scoring rate and he struck Morkel for three successive fours in a stand of 55 in 11 overs with Robson. That alliance was broken in the second over after lunch when the Middlesex opener edged Chris Morris to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock for 47.

    That brought Lions captain Ballance to the crease and he showed all the resolve that the tourists will expect from him at Lord's next week, if selected. He ground his way to 15 from 80 balls before successive fours off Morkel provided some impetus before tea.

    Westley reached his century in the final session, from 146 balls with nine fours, soon followed by Ballance posting his half-century.

    Theunis de Bruyn finally removed Ballance lbw and won another lbw deicsion to remove Sam Billings fourth-ball, but Westley remained unbowed. 

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