Cameron Bancroft’s inclusion in the Australian test team has left several former players scratching their heads - particularly after the man himself said he was ‘highly unlikely’ to be picked.
The Western Australian wasn’t selected for the Australia A team that faced Pakistan earlier this week, only taking the field after Victorian Nic Maddinson withdrew to deal with mental health issues.
Another Victorian batsman, Will Pucovski, made a similar announcement on Thursday - again opening the door for Bancroft.
Fans were divided after the 14-man squad was revealed, with some believing the likes of Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris were hard done by to miss out.
Travis Head was also brought in to the Test squad.
Former spinner Brad Hogg wasn’t sold on Bancroft’s inclusion, but he saved his biggest criticism for Joe Burns.
Hogg said there were underlying issues with Bancroft’s batting technique that he believes will eventually bring him unstuck against Pakistan.
“I’m absolutely surprised that he’s been picked because he’s had a technical flaw since the Ashes series and I don’t feel as though he’s rectified it, and I don’t feel as though he’s spent enough time in the middle in Shield cricket,” Hogg told radio station SEN.
“I think a few others have been hard done by. I think Pucovski would have been in front of him if it wasn’t for the mental issues that he’s pulled himself out with as well. Big call to put Bancroft in.”
While Hogg accepted the Burns selection, he said Pakistan had been ‘all over him’ in their tour matches and that Marcus Harris had been hard done by.
“Harris is in form in Shield cricket, he is scoring runs left, right and centre at Shield level,” Hogg said.
“You pick Australian teams from performances at Shield level and they haven’t done this – I don’t think Joe Burns is ready with the technique as I said earlier today.
“With the bowling that Pakistan have got, I just think they’ll be licking their lips with Joe Burns at the top of the order hoping they can get into Steve Smith with a hard new ball.”
Batting depth in trouble
Speaking on Wide World of Sports, both Mark Taylor and Ian Chappell agreed there were serious questions that needed to be asked about how batsmen were being developed.
Taylor said the withdrawals of Pucovski and Maddinson, both of whom had strong cases for selectiomn, had made life difficult for chief selector Trevor Hohns.
“It’s hard to hold Trevor Hohns to account, because he’s waiting for guys to make runs,” Taylor said.
“I got the feeling Trevor was looking to play Will Pucovski in this match, but unfortunately he’s had to make himself unavailable.
“And once again Trevor and the selectors are left with slim pickings, because there’s not a lot of guys making a lot of runs. Our batting depth is not great.”
Chappell agreed, saying the current squad was an indication of ‘how muddy the waters are at the moment.’