Gary Ballance, on Tuesday, became only the second batter in the history of Test cricket to score hundreds for two countries. The southpaw achieved the feat in Zimbabwe’s opening Test against the West Indies at the Queen’s Sports Club in Bulawayo. Kepler Wessels is the only other batter to achieve the milestone when he played for South Africa and Australia. Ballance played a wonderful inning to bring up his maiden Test ton. The 33-year-old batter got to his hundred on Day 4 of the ongoing Test and took only 189 balls to reach the three-digit score.
Balance, who came to bat at No.4, batted slow and steady to bring up his half-century off 126 balls. From there on, he shifted his gears to lead a fightback innings and remained unbeaten on 137. Ballance was born in Zimbabwe and also played in the U19 World Cup for his place of birth back in 2006. Thereafter, he made a shift to England where he played for Yorkshire, after which he made his Test debut for England back in January 2014 against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The left-handed batter went on to play 23 Tests for the Three Lions and scored 1498 runs at an average of 37.45 with four hundreds to prove his batting skills. But after the Nottingham Test against South Africa back in July 2017, Ballance lost his spot from the England Test team.
Ballance found himself in more trouble after his name came up in the controversy surrounding ‘institutional racism’ at the Yorkshire County club. Ballance tried to revive his career by signing a two-year career for Zimbabwe. He made his T20I debut for Zimbabwe against Ireland back in January 2023. He also took part in a three-match ODI series against the Irish team.
Ballance’s crucial century helped Zimbabwe go from being at risk of being made to follow on to a position from where they could declare the innings. The middle-order batter’s brilliant knock along with a maiden Test half-century from Brandon Mayuta (56) helped their side fight back from a vulnerable position. Ballance was the rock that held Zimbabwe’s innings together after their solid opening stand on Day 3.
Ballance scored runs with ease and was never troubled a lot by the West Indies bowlers. He hit 12 fours and two sixes in his 231-ball innings, and continued to put on significant partnerships with the lower-order batters, after initially losing partners in quick succession.