Yorkshire’s England batsman Gary Ballance struggled to find the words to describe scoring his maiden Test century at Lord’s, before settling on “brilliant” and “over the moon”.
Playing in only his second Test match, Ballance made an unbeaten 104 to help England close the penultimate day on 267 for eight in their second innings and a lead of 389 over Sri Lanka.
An understandably delighted Ballance, who reached three figures by smashing Rangana Herath for six off the first delivery of the day’s final over,said of his century: “I can’t describe it. That was just brilliant, the feeling I have now and 10 minutes ago is indescribable.
“I’m just over the moon at the moment. It’s the things you dream about isn’t it.”
England looked in trouble at 121 for six, but Ballance and Chris Jordan (35) got them back on track with 78-run stand for the seventh wicket before the Yorkshire batsman and Stuart Broad (24) put on 57 more to leave Alastair Cook’s men in a strong position heading into the final day.
It remains to be seen if Cook will declare overnight, but Ballance admitted he wanted to get his ton this evening regardless.
The left-hander said: “We might still have a few overs out there tomorrow, I’m not so sure, but I was definitely looking to get it this evening.”
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, who scored 102 as the tourists were bowled out for 453, heaped praise on his bowlers for their showing on Sunday but conceded their chances of victory had been hit by the stand between Ballance and Jordan.
“It’s a really good wicket but I think the bowlers bowled brilliantly in the second innings. We put them under pressure but they’ve got a healthy lead,” said Mathews, who saw spinner Herath take four for 95 and seamer Shaminda Eranga three for 63.
“Until Ballance and Jordan got together we had our chances. I’m not saying we’re out of the game but we need to bat sensibly because they’ve got a healthy lead and the wicket is batting up and down.”
Pushed on whether his side would go for the victory if England declare overnight, Mathews remained non-committal, saying: “Tricky one. We’ve got to access the conditions.
“It’s starting to spin, we’ve got to access the conditions first and then see how it goes.”