Ballance is one of three Yorkshire players – Alex Lees and Liam Plunkett have also been selected – due to play against Australia for England Lions in a two-day match starting at Northampton on Friday and has ambitions of earning a call-up for the one-day series that follows the Ashes.
He will report for duty at Northampton in prime form after hitting a brilliant 139 off only 113 balls, including 15 fours and three sixes, to help Yorkshire reach a commanding 266 for six after being put into bat and they completed a comfortable victory by dismissing Unicorns for 234 in reply.
His innings was his highest one-day score for Yorkshire, eclipsing the unbeaten 103 he scored against Unicorns at Scarborough last year, and only three runs short of overhauling his highest score for Yorkshire in all cricket, his 141 in the championship match against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough earlier this summer.
Ballance’s display was all the more remarkable considering Yorkshire had slipped to 16 for two after Andrew Gale and Dan Hodgson both fell to slip catches inside the first four overs of the match and leave them in danger of becoming the first team this summer to lose to the Unicorns, a side made up of retired former professionals and youngsters released from counties.
He teamed up successfully with Lees in a 134-run partnership spanning 23 overs, which was only broken when the emerging Yorkshire opener fell lbw to former Durham and Derbyshire all-rounder Garry Park trying to sweep after sc oring 63 off 74 balls. He was swiftly followed by Adam Lyth falling to the same bowler attempting to score quick runs and Jack Leaning was bowled by seamer Aneurin Norman.
Looking to make quick runs in the final 10 overs, Ballance was joined by Plunkett and the pair hammered 76 off only 35 balls, including Ballance claiming 24 off the 38th over of the innings from seamer Dominic Reed before holing out to long on with two balls remaining of the innings.
Despite registering their highest score of a disappointing YB40 campaign, Yorkshire encountered frustrating resistance from the Unicorns with former Derbyshire batsman Matt Lineker hitting 107 off 105 balls, his first century in any form of county cricket.
He forged a 77-runn opening stand with Thomas Lancefield, who edged Plunkett behind for 39, but none of the other Unicorns batsmen were able to keep him company for long enough. He finally fell lbw to Jack Leaning’s off-spin in the 34th over, who finished with incredible figures of five for 22 after Unicorns lost six for 32.
Gary Ballance warmed up for his next call-up by England by recording his highest 40-over score of his career to help Yorkshire reach a competitive total against Unicorns at Headingley.
Just days before Ballance is due to meet up with England Lions for the two-day match against Australia at Northampton, which starts on Friday, alongside Yorkshire team-mates Alex Lees and Liam Plunkett and will report in good form after hitting 139 off 113 balls in today’s YB40 match, to help his side reach 266 for five.
Ballance hit 15 fours and three sixes in his innings, which eclipsed the 103 he scored against the same opponents at Scarborough last year, and helped Yorkshire recover after they slipped to 16 for two after being put into bat with captain Andrew Gale and Dan Hodgson both falling to slip catches inside the first four overs of the match.
After that unexpected start, Ballance teamed up with Lees in a productive 134-run partnership spanning 23 overs, with both players racing to their half-centuries at almost a run a ball.
Lees reached the landmark first, but fell lbw trying to sweep Garry Park’s medium pace having hit 63 off 74 balls, while Adam Lyth perished to the same bowler when he was bowled attempting to score quick runs in the final overs.
Jack Leaning was also bowled attempting to steer seamer Aneurin Norman to third man, but Liam Plunkett kept Ballance company in an explosive 76-run partnership off only 35 balls that only ended two runs before the end of the innings when Ballance was caught at long on.