Cameron Bancroft's irresistible case for Test selection amid David Warner dramas
The West Australian opener's stunning form heaps more pressure on the out-of-sorts David Warner.
Cameron Bancroft has put forward a compelling case to earn a recall to the Aussie Test side after an extraordinary innings for leaders Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield. The former Test opener - who has featured only fleetingly for Australia since he was banned over the ball-tampering saga - continued his impressive form for WA in the Shield with an unbeaten 176 against Tasmania.
The opener's century helped WA reach 3(dec)-372 to set Tasmania a massive 504-run victory target. Tasmania capitulated to be 8-101 in a 30-over final session on Thursday, only just forcing the match into a fourth day.
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Bancroft last featured for Australia in an Ashes Test against England at Lord’s in 2019, but has been in sparkling touch in the Sheffield Shield, where he is now the competition's leading run-scorer this season with 767 runs at an average of 56. Bancroft's massive ton for WA sees him leapfrog Peter Handscomb in the Shield run-scoring table, with the latter having himself earned a recall to Australia's middle order for the first two Tests in India.
With David Warner struggling for form before suffering a fractured elbow and a concussion that saw him fly home early from India, Bancroft has put himself firmly in the conversation to potentially earn a Test recall. His chances of being flown over to India would appear to be slim, however, with Australia coach Andrew McDonald suggesting Travis Head will continue batting at the top of the order.
Head filled in admirably at the top of the order for Warner in the second innings in Delhi, after the veteran opener was hit on the helmet and ruled out of the remainder of the match with concussion. Head made a solid 43 runs before a disastrous Aussie batting collapse handed the series to India, with McDonald later confirming that Head would likely keep his spot as opener after Warner's departure.
“If Dave’s unavailable, (Head opening) would make perfect sense,” McDonald said in India. “We did discuss before coming over here that if we were to lose an opening batter that Trav would be one we’d look to put up there. We feel in the subcontinental conditions that he can get off to the fast starts which he showed. “We don’t see (Head) as an opener in all conditions, more subcontinental and in other conditions back to the middle order.”
McDonald's last point certainly opens the door some someone like Bancroft to fancy his chances of breaking back into the Test side, if selectors opt to go in a different direction that Warner for the Ashes series in England later this year. The veteran opener boasts a meagre 26.04 from 25 Test innings in England, has never scored an Ashes century overseas and was tormented by paceman Stuart Broad the last time he played there.
It would appear Cameron Bancroft is bound for India shortly
May not get a start in the series but it would be a significant show of faith from the selectors ahead of a big winter in England
— Glenn Mitchell (@MitchellGlenn) February 23, 2023
@CricketAus has to be in the Ashes squad!!
— erin fogarty ⚓🏏🏈 (@erinfogarty20) February 23, 2023
…meanwhile…Renshaw averaging 1.33 on current Indian Test tour and that was always going to happen..
— Jos (@JosJules) February 23, 2023
Put ticket and bring him to india..we need some resistance from you guys
— shyam prasad (@shyamdeena) February 23, 2023
— Ravis (@Savir81) February 23, 2023
Booking his ticket for England.
— jimmyca (@jimmyackland) February 23, 2023
Question marks over David Warner's Test spot
Interestingly, Aussie selector Tony Dodemaide failed to fully endorse Warner when asked this week whether the veteran batter was part of their plan for the Ashes. “We’re worried about what we can get out of these remaining two Tests, obviously that’s a clear focus for us at the moment,” Dodemaide said after shifting focus back on the India series.
“We’ll address the Ashes planning (at a later time), but we are committed to picking the best fit and available players for Test series, particularly something as big as the Ashes. That’s not a question that we’ve addressed so far. Warner, however, remains bullish about plans to play on for Australia until 2024, but accepted that if it was just in the shorter formats of the game, then he would be at peace with that decision from selectors.
"I've always said I'm playing to 2024; if the selectors feel that I'm not worthy of my (Test) spot, then so be it, and I can push on to the white-ball stuff," Warner told reporters after arriving home at Sydney Airport. "I've got the next 12 months, a lot of cricket's ahead for the team and if I can keep scoring runs and putting my best foot forward for the team and I can help my spot, it'd be great for the team.
"It's easy pickings (for critics) when you're 36 going on 37. I've seen it before with the ex-players as well. So for me if I'm taking pressure off the rest of the other guys, and no one's worrying about the rest of the team, I'm happy to do that."
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