A former England international, now playing for Zimbabwe, became only the second player in history to score test centuries for both countries
With Zimbabwe looking down and out against the West Indies in Bulawayo, Gary Ballance not only provided the much-needed balance to the side but, in the process, etched his name in the record books with a potential match-saving century on February 7.
Ballance, 33, became only the second cricketer, after former Australian and South African player Kepler Wessels, to score a Test century for two countries.
Before changing his allegiance to Zimbabwe, his country of birth, Ballance scored four centuries for England, for whom he had played 23 Test matches.
The left-hander played 42 times across the three formats for England. Ballance made a promising start for England as he became their third-fastest batter to reach 1,000 Test runs. However, his form slipped, and Ballance found himself out in the cold after being dropped in 2017.
In 2021, Ballance became eligible to play for Zimbabwe after a long absence from international cricket. And in December 2022, he announced switching his allegiance to the country of his birth, which he had previously represented at the youth level.
While he had previously played one T20I and two ODIs for Zimbabwe, this was Ballance’s first series in Zimbabwe’s whites.
And on the fourth day of the match, Ballance brought all his experience to the fore as Zimbabwe was struggling to avoid following on.
Ballance patched up a 135-run partnership with no. 9 Brandon Mavuta (56, 132b, 9×4) that helped Zimbabwe out of the mire.
Ballance remained not out at 137 (231b, 12×4, 2×6) when Zimbabwe sportingly declared their innings at 379 for nine after letting the West Indies post 447 for six declared in the first essay. Mavuta, the leg-spinner, was responsible for five of the six wickets that fell in West Indies’ first innings.
At the stumps of day four, Ballance’s heroics and Mavuta’s gutsy performance kept Zimbabwe alive in the game as West Indies managed to take an 89-run lead.