Bancroft 'improved' as battle to follow Warner heats up

Cameron Bancroft says Australia will see an improved opener if he is given the chance to replace David Warner at the top of the Test batting order.

With the World Cup triumph ticked off, Australia's attention will turn to red-ball cricket in the next week ahead of the first Test against Pakistan on December 14.

Warner will feature in that series, but the big selection question of the summer will be for the ensuing two Tests against West Indies once the veteran opener walks away following the third Test against Pakistan in hometown Sydney.

David Warner
David Warner is set to retire from the Test arena after the Sydney Test.

Bancroft has not played for Australia since he averaged 11 in two Tests in the 2019 Ashes, which doubled as his return from the ball-tampering ban.

The 31-year-old has not even been included in an Australian squad since later that year, with nine other men having opened for the country in Tests since.

The West Australian said earlier this summer he hoped he had paid his dues for sandpapergate, after attracting headlines again for comments around the saga in 2021.

Bancroft is expected to be named in the Prime Minister's XI squad on Wednesday, and on numbers alone, Bancroft should be the frontrunner to replace Warner in the Test team.

He was the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield last summer, and tops the charts this season with 505 runs at an average of 63.12 with one round to go before the BBL break.

"The more you play, hopefully the more you improve," Bancroft said.

"If an opportunity presents itself, I'd like to think that I've improved my game. But I understand that it's a long journey as well.

"I'm still learning. I'm just trying to keep that mindset there. It gives you space for growth and perspective. And I think that's really important in cricket."

Bancroft's runs put him ahead of rivals Matt Renshaw (305 at 33.88) and Marcus Harris (273 at 39) in this summer's Shield, with both showing spurts of form.

Renshaw played for Australia as recently as the tour of India, while Harris holds a Cricket Australia contract and has long been a back-up batsman on tours.

Matt Renshaw
Matt Renshaw is another leading candidate to replace David Warner in the Test side.

Bancroft averaged 30.92 in his first eight Tests before the ball-tampering scandal, but like all openers struggled to handle the swinging Dukes ball in the 2019 Ashes.

"The moving ball is hard work. It's not easy to play. You need a bit of luck," Bancroft said.

"I try and go out and do my best and hopefully learn from the experiences that have come, like that one. And try and be a better player for it moving forward."

Bancroft said he had not focussed on trying to knock down the door with Shield runs in the past 15 months, but has also not given up on a Test return.

"I don't deny that like every player in the country I would love an opportunity to play for Australia again," he said.

"That is certainly is one of my goals.

"But when I walk out, I'm purely focused and present on what can I do for the team today."