Cameron Bancroft banking on red-hot Sheffield Shield form to make Ashes selection case
Australian selectors resisted replacing the injured David Warner with Bancroft, who is the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield with 767 runs at 63.91 with four centuries.
He admitted to having little dialogue with Australia’s hierarchy recently.
“Not a whole lot,” Bancroft told reporters in Perth just hours before the Indore Test match started. “[Australia’s chief selector] George Bailey has been at a couple of our games and he’s obviously floating around watching a lot of the domestic cricket.”
But Bancroft understands what he needs to do to earn a long-awaited Test recall.
“Just going out there and playing well and doing the best you can,” he said. “Obviously, the Test team are away in India at the moment … what happens in the future with what I do there and that space, I guess it’s just about being present and playing what’s in front of you now.
“That’s something I’m really focused on doing and I’m sure all the other things will take care of themselves.”
Having been overlooked for a spot in India, Bancroft has been watching from afar Australia’s batting travails on spinning surfaces.
“It’s looked really challenging and obviously they’ve got some really good quality spinners. I’m sure the guys are really learning a lot over there,” he said.
A couple of seasons ago Bancroft’s career was in limbo having been dropped from Western Australia’s Shield team. It was a fall for the hardnosed batter once touted as a future Test captain.
As a 22-year-old, he memorably batted for 13 hours and made a double century against New South Wales to evoke comparisons to his childhood hero Justin Langer.
Aided by some mentoring from Langer, who he has worked with privately, Bancroft has rediscovered his penchant for grinding down bowlers. He has faced 1694 deliveries in this season’s Shield – 543 more than next most Dan Hughes.
Bancroft has also unveiled attacking flair which he showcased during Perth Scorchers’ BBL title defence, where he became a key cog at the top of the opener having started the season on the outer.
He’s becoming an alluring prospect for Australia across formats with Bancroft taking heed from his previous international experience.
“I like to think that as time goes by you improve and learn the lessons from your previous opportunities,” he said.
“I just try to keep that in mind, from previous times I’ve played for Australia to how you come out and play in Shield cricket and all forms for WA.
“If an opportunity comes hopefully I’m in a better place to play well, but right now the focus is really on WA and we’ll see what happens down the track.”
Bancroft is eyeing been part of a sweep of domestic titles with WA to host South Australia in the 50-over Marsh Cup final on March 8. They can also secure a home Shield final for the second straight season with a victory over Tasmania in the four-day match starting on Thursday at the WACA.
Star allrounder Mitchell Marsh has been named in the 13-man Shield squad as he continues his return from a three-month injury layoff ahead of next month’s ODI tour of India, while Scorchers captain Ashton Turner is also in the selection frame to end a near three-year exile from first class cricket.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth