England V Chairman's XI

Gary Ballance

The right man for the job: Gary Ballance cuts on his way to 55 against the Cricket Australia Chairman's XI in Alice Springs on Friday. Photo: Getty Images

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has backed Zimbabwean-born batsman Gary Ballance to make his Test debut next week as the visitors' batting woes continued in Alice Springs on Friday.

Last week it was Mitchell Johnson and now it's a group of apprentices, journeymen and a former sushi deliverer who have left England's batsmen red faced.

Less than a week before the second Test, runs are proving as hard to find for England as running water on the parched riverbeds of the red centre.

An embarrassing first innings defeat beckons for the world's No.3 ranked if the Chairman's XI batsmen can capitalise on the industry of their bowlers, who made a batting line-up missing only two of their like top seven next week look very modest.

Against an attack consisting of bowlers spurned by their states, England reached 7-212 declared - underwhelming even considering the sluggish outfield.

And the only player to pass 50, Ballance, is not considered a sure thing to play the second Test though his odds of making his debut in Adelaide are much shorter after a dogged 55.

The home side will resume on Saturday on 0-16.

Andy Flower's team may not have had to deal with any 150kph thunderbolts but they found an attack made up of bowlers spurned by their states a more than worthy adversary.

In fact, the underdogs beat England at their own game, showing more patience in the unforgiving heat against a team which has achieved much of its success under Flower by winning battles of attrition.

Although it may be hard for an international team to prime themselves for what is essentially an exhibition game they would not have foreseen being reduced to 6-149 when Ian Bell was dismissed by the uncapped Simon Mackin, who once worked as a sushi deliverer.

They did not post a partnership in excess of 50 until Jonny Bairstow, who made an unbeaten 31 batting at No.7, and Graeme Swann combined for the seventh wicket.

The damage could have been significantly worse if not for Ballance, who was rock solid in defence for nearly three-and-a-quarter hours before being run out after a farcical mix-up with Bell.

He is in the box seat to replace Trott given he was given the opportunity to bat at three ahead of fellow contenders Ben Stokes and Bairstow.

But the chunky Zimbabwean-born left-hander, who has a first-class average of 53, has the backing of Vaughan.

"His record in first-class cricket, one-day cricket is exceptional for Yorkshire," Vaughan said.

"He was selected not for the runs he scored but when he scored them - he generally scores them when the pressure's on and the team is in a little bit of a hole. That shows the mentality about you.

"The step up from county level to face this Australian attack is what Test cricket is about. You never know how someone will react but he's certainly got the right mentality to cope with it."

But several other England batsmen missed a golden opportunity to spend invaluable time at the crease.

Joe Root, considered favourite to replace Jonathan Trott at No.3, made 22 before cutting paceman Jayde Herrick uppishly to gully.

All-rounder Ben Stokes's hopes of a Test debut lengthened after he was brilliantly caught in close off the bowling of former budding AFL star Alex Keath.

And there was no joy either for Test vice-captain Matt Prior, who continued his long run of outs by making 19 after being pushed up the order to No.4.