Zimbabwe’s Gary Ballance created cricketing history on Tuesday as he became just the second player to set a unique record. Ballance, playing for Zimbabwe scored unbeaten 137 runs in the first innings as he achieved a rare feat in the 146-year-old cricket history. Trailing in the first innings, Ballance is only the second player after Kepler Wessels to achieve the record on the international stage as the first Test match heads towards a draw.
History created by Ballance
The 33-year-old’s century was the fifth of his Test career, but his first for Zimbabwe after officially moving to represent the country of his birth in late 2022. And on his Zimbabwe Test debut against West Indies, Ballance has written himself into the history books.
The 33-year-old’s outstanding 137* means he is just the second player in the history of the game to have scored Test centuries for two different countries, following in the footsteps of former Australia and South Africa international Kepler Wessels.
The left-handed Ballance played 42 times for England across all three formats, averaging 37.45 in his 23 Test appearances for England between 2014 and 2017. He was the third fastest batter in England men’s history to reach 1000 Test runs, but his form slipped off and he was dropped in 2017.
A long spell out of international cricket meant that, by 2021, he was eligible to also play for Zimbabwe. And in December 2022 he announced that he had made himself available to play for Zimbabwe, the country where he was born, grew up, and who he represented at youth level.
“The opportunity to represent Zimbabwe has given me a new-found passion and excitement for the game,” the batter said on revealing his decision to switch national teams.
"I have kept in touch with a number of people within Zimbabwe cricket over the years and it has been great to watch their recent progress especially."
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Ballance’s career with Zimbabwe
Ballance featured in one T20I and two ODIs for Zimbabwe in January prior to his selection for the Test series against West Indies. And his century on the fourth day in Bulawayo came at a vital time for his team. Facing the prospect of a significant first-innings deficit or potentially even following on, Ballance steadied the ship before accelerating the scoring.
His outstanding 135-run partnership with Brandon Mavuta got Zimbabwe out of trouble, with Ballance still out in the middle unbeaten on 137* when his captain declared in the hope of forcing a result. West Indies lead by 89 runs going into the final day’s play, with Ballance’s heroics keeping the game alive.