Ashes 2013-14: Gary Ballance puts his hand up to replace Jonathan Trott as half-century is shining light in yet another batting failure

England declare on 212-7 against a Chairman's XI which posed the top order more problems as they found runs hard to come by

Alice Springs

Gary Ballance made his case for a Test debut with a patient half-century in another disappointing display from England’s batsmen.

Ballance hopes to be included in next week’s Second Ashes Test in Adelaide as a replacement for Jonathan Trott, who flew home earlier this week with a stress-related illness. Ballance is fighting for a spot at No 6 with his Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow and Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes.

Against a Chairman’s XI attack of only moderate quality, not one of England’s top six managed to impose himself properly in pleasant batting conditions. Captain Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen were rested but the poor form continued in their absence.

One reading of Ballance’s elevation to No3 is that a place in the Test team is his to lose. With Bairstow keeping wicket and made to wait until the fall of the fifth wicket before he batted, it is clear the England management were keen to take a proper look at Ballance. Stokes’ brisk bowling and aggressive work at the crease would give England greater flexibility, but doubts remain about whether, at this stage of his career, he is proficient enough with ball or bat to play at Test level.

Ballance was the only England player to pass 50 as they declared at 212 for seven, an attempt to earn another opportunity to bat in this two-day game. At the close, the Chairman’s XI were 16 without loss after 10 overs.

The view of one Australian spectator reflected the reality. “ These Poms aren’t setting the world on fire, are they?” remarked the man in question to his pal as they queued for a hot dog. It was impossible to offer a contradiction.

It is hard to judge the significance of Ballance’s contribution under circumstances that are so different from those which England will face when they travel south. Against the backdrop of the MacDonnell Ranges, and with the atmosphere at Traeger Park similar to a festival day at a county ground, this was as far away from the hostility of the Gabba in Brisbane as it was possible to be.

Still, though, the England XI, led by Ian Bell, could not get their act together. Joe Root, a strong contender to take Trott’s spot at No3 in Adelaide, opened the innings with Michael Carberry; neither man could make a convincing impression.

Carberry had made only six before he chipped to midwicket, and Root chased a wide delivery and was caught in the gully for 22. At that stage, England were 35 for two and, perhaps, suddenly grateful for the weakened attack they were facing. South Australian paceman Kane Richardson and Queensland bowler Alister McDermott were withdrawn from the original squad as both were required by their states for the domestic Sheffield Shield competition

Sent in at No3, Ballance took his time to construct his innings, rarely looking troubled against seamers Josh Lalor, Jayde Herrick and Simon Mackin. He was joined by Matt Prior, whose promotion to No4 for this match did not signal a change in fortunes. Prior has not made a half-century in Tests since the tour of New Zealand last spring and here, he attacked from the start.

One loose cut shot only just cleared cover point before Prior pushed forward to a delivery from Mackin and was caught behind by Jake Doran, the 16-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman included in this squad by Cricket Australia.

Prior badly needs runs. He might even be pushed further up the order in the second innings after this latest failure, although it is not as though the others’ form is much better. Stokes, another contender for the No6 spot next week, had just started to assert himself when he, too, departed.

After hitting the off-spin of Ashton Turner for successive fours down the ground, Stokes was superbly caught at short leg off the same bowler, and the wickets kept falling. Ballance reached his fifty before he was run out attempting a single that was never really available, while Bell was undone when Mackin found some extra bounce and was caught behind.

It says much about England’s batting display that their highest partnership of the innings was built by the seventh-wicket pair of Bairstow and Graeme Swann. No doubt delighted not to have to deal with Mitchell Johnson’s short-pitched missiles, Swann went on the attack and made an entertaining 29 from 36 deliveries.

 

Get Adobe Flash player
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on