Ballance Century Before Spinners Hit Back
England Lions 269-7 (Ballance 104) v Australians
Tour game, day one, Northampton
Yorkshire's Gary Ballance showed why he is tipped to make the step up to full England honours in the future with a century on day one for the England Lions against Australia.
The Zimbabwe-born left-hander struck 104 in 154 balls but five wickets shared between spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve Smith saw the Lions closed on 269 for seven in Northampton.
Rain prevented a timely start and the Lions would face 47 overs out of 77 bowled of spin as Lyon (3-80), Smith (2-8), David Warner (0-25 in four overs) and Ashton Agar (0-55 in 16) got through the bulk of the work.
Left-arm opening pair James Faulkner and Mitchell Starc grabbed a wicket apiece, the former removing Luke Wells for 10 and the latter Moeen Ali for 61.
Worcestershire's Moeen had been in good touch, hitting six fours and a six in 101 balls and adding useful runs with Alex Lees (33) and then Ballance.
Captain Eoin Morgan has been struggling for runs with Middlesex recently and made just five before becoming the second of Lyon's victims, the off-spinner having already snared Lees.
He struck again to remove Durham's Ben Stokes for 19 before Ballance reached his century, hitting 16 fours and a six only to be trapped in front by Smith soon after reaching his milestone.
Lyon the fielder and Smith the fielder combined to remove Jos Buttler for seven and at stumps, Liam Plunkett was unbeaten on five and Keith Barker had nine.
Australia opted to rest Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Chris Rogers, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle with Shane Watson taking over the captaincy.
The game will conclude tomorrow (17th August) although with the forecast not looking too bright for the Midlands, Australia may be deprived of the batting practice they could use to give Phillip Hughes and Ed Cowan the opportunity to press for inclusion at The Oval.
England lead the Ashes series 3-0 with one match to play.
© Cricket World 2013