The Trent Bridge Test was destined to end in a dull draw and Alastair Cook didn’t want to further tire his frontline pacers out. So he came on to bowl himself and then lobbed the ball to his No. 3 batsman, Gary Ballance. All who saw that over agreed it was the best over of spin bowling from England in that match, with all due respect to Moeen Ali.
“I was pretty nervous, I wasn’t expecting to be called to bowl,” Ballance said of his first Test over. “I was glad the first one landed and that gave me a little more confidence. It’s tough as a part-time spinner. I never really got an opportunity to bowl in a game before that.
“I’ll practice my bowling a bit more in the nets and we’ll see how it goes from there,” he said. “The captains will want that extra bowling option and being a wrist spinner, there might be an opportunity for me to come on to bowl on a flat wicket when the game is going nowhere.”
However, he rightly added that majority of his focus will remain on his batting. “I will work a bit harder on the bowling but right now it’s the time to concentrate on batting and get some good scores.”
Ballance is one of England’s in-form batsmen with scores of 104*, 74 and 71 in his last three Test innings. With the likes of Cook and Ian Bell not in the best of tough, he knows he will have to shoulder more batting responsibility at the crucial No. 3 position.
“Being a No. 3 you try and bat for a very long time and on the pitches that are quite slow, if the bowlers hold a tight line and bowl full, it gets tough to score. So, you’ve got to be patient and I am happy to play like that. I like batting for time.”
However, the four-Test old batsman is not worried about the lack of runs from the senior pros. “I don’t think we’re making up for anyone. It’s Test cricket and that’s how it goes. It’s nice that some of us younger guys have done well and let’s hope that in the coming games we put in a good team batting performance.”
With the pitches being on the slower side in the recent Tests in England, the captains will prefer going in with five bowlers, which will increase the onus on the shoulders of the batsmen.
“With the pitches being slow, there is a need to play that extra bowler. When you’re bowling so many overs, you need more bowlers – we struggled with three seamers at Trent Bridge. It might put a bit of pressure on the batsmen but that’s our job” Ballance said.