Ballance betrays nervousness

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Gary Ballance rose to the occasion at Lord's Gary Ballance rose to the occasion at Lord's

If Gary Ballance was "daunted" at the idea of becoming England's Test match number three, he has yet to show it.

Ballance's unbeaten 104 dug England out of a spot of bother on day four of the first Investec Test at Lord's, his maiden hundred in only his second match at the highest level helping the hosts to 267 for eight.

That seemed a world away shortly after tea when, albeit with a first-innings lead of 122 already banked, England stumbled to 121 for six against Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath.

Ballance was in no mood to join the collapse, though, digging in for a four-hour century and sharing a crucial seventh-wicket stand of 78 with Chris Jordan.

Asked afterwards if his new role, on cricket's highest-profile stage, had given him butterflies, the doughty left-hander said: "It's quite daunting batting anywhere [in any position], in your first Test at Lord's.

"I was in quite early in the first innings, so didn't have too much time to worry about nerves.

"I felt good then...so I just tried to bat time and knew if I did that, the runs would come quite quickly towards the end of the day."

Ballance's only previous Test experience came in the final match of England's Ashes whitewash defeat last winter, in Sydney.

He added: "I learnt a lot over the winter, and then started the season quite well with Yorkshire - so I felt like I was in good form in the one-dayers (against Sri Lanka) and didn't really get the big score.

"Getting the chance to bat number three for England, I wasn't going to turn that down.

"I'm just really delighted I got a hundred at Lord's. It's great."

He had manful support from a notably fluent Jordan - and was grateful.

"Jords batted very well," he said.

"He came in and was positive from the word go, and played some lovely shots.

"I was just kind of trying to work ones and give him the strike, the way he was playing, because he was hitting boundaries freely.

"Then Broady [Stuart Broad] came in and was positive too, and really put impetus into the innings."

Ballance, who reached his century with a six over midwicket off Herath, is unsure whether he has ever gone to three figures with a maximum elsewhere.

"I can't remember doing one," he said.

"But even if I had, it wouldn't be like the feeling I had here."

There was just a fleeting moment of uncertainty for the 24-year-old Yorkshire batsman, before he realised the shot was going all the way into the Grandstand.

"I had to have a look," he said.

"I hit it out of the middle, but I think the breeze was going a little bit down the slope.

"So I thought I might not get enough of it. But when I saw it go over the rope, it was just a great feeling."

England, predictably, declared overnight and therefore set Sri Lanka a Lord's record 390 to win on the final day.

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