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Bancroft continues Ashes push with ton

WA wicketkeeper-batsman posts a century and earns praise from selector Mark Waugh ahead of first Ashes Test

Cameron Bancroft has continued his push for an unlikely Test debut at The Gabba, notching a century in Western Australia's JLT Sheffield Shield clash in Perth.

Less than a week after his impressive double against a Test-quality NSW side, where he posted two half-centuries and was flawless with the gloves in what was only his second full first-class match as a wicketkeeper, Bancroft brought up three figures against South Australia just after tea on day one.

And the impressive youngster pushed on to be unbeaten on 161 at stumps having found the boundary 18 times in 96 overs at the crease.

Proud Bancroft celebrates first-class ton No.11

National selectors have made it clear that the No.6 and wicketkeeping spots for the Magellan Ashes are up for grabs and as a solid right-hander and gloveman, Bancroft could conceivably fill either position.

And even if his late bid for a spot in the first Test is unsuccessful, the 24-year-old has applied more pressure on out-of-form opener Matthew Renshaw with another strong performance at the WACA Ground.

Renshaw still searching for runs ahead of Ashes

Selectors have called for Test hopefuls to stand up under pressure in the early Shield rounds and Bancroft has done just that in his past two outings for the Warriors.

Last week, he became the first wicketkeeper in the history of the Sheffield Shield to carry his bat in WA’s first innings when he made an unbeaten 76 from 187 balls and then backed it up 86 from 168 deliveries in the second innings.

Tireless Bancroft's marathon match continues with 86

Speaking before Bancroft's century today, Australia selector Mark Waugh said he had no qualms with picking a debutant for the first Test and heaped praise on Bancroft having watched him up close at Hurstville Oval last week.

Bancroft impressed Waugh in his marathon match at Hurstville Oval as the National Selection Panel get set to meet on Wednesday to nut out the first Test squad for the Gabba.


"Played really well,” Waugh told reporters at a Triple M function on Monday. "That’s the sort of performances you want to see on a consistent basis from players at state level.

"It probably hasn’t been the case, I don’t think, for the last few years.

"We’ve seen periods where players have batted well then haven’t quite nailed it with a lot of big scores.

"Cameron’s two innings were really good against a Test bowling attack.

"That’s the sort of performance, as far as me being a selector, that’s very good.

"That sort of innings certainly puts you high in the order for the selectors.”

Bancroft bolts into sudden Ashes contention

Against the likely Australia Test attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, Bancroft was on the field for all but 24.4 overs of the Round 2 Shield clash in Sydney, impressing both with the bat and the gloves.

After the leading contenders for the No.6 spot misfired on Monday - Bancroft's state teammate Hilton Cartwright was dismissed for 35 and Glenn Maxwell scored just 4 - the WA opener brought up his 11th first-class century.

Although he's still a novice when it comes to standing behind the stumps in first-class cricket a handful of times, Waugh was impressed enough with Bancroft’s glovework at Hurstville Oval. 

"I haven’t seen a lot of his keeping but he kept very well in that game at Hurstville, didn’t really drop a ball," Waugh said.

"He’s an excellent fieldsmen without gloves on, so should be easy with gloves on, but he’s a tough kid, tough cricketer, he was out on the ground basically all game, he’s very fit.

"I haven’t seen enough of his keeping just yet but I’m sure with his natural ability to catch a ball there’s no reason why if he wanted to, to keep keeping then he could do it.

"It’s pretty hard to bat and keep, it’s not easy, we’ve seen a few guys do it. (England ‘keeper Jonny) Bairstow is doing it well now, and Alec Stewart did it pretty well for England, (Sri Lanka legend Kumar) Sangakkara, up to the individual but he’s certainly talented enough."

Day one highlights: WA v South Australia

Bancroft also has the backing of former Australia spin bowler Kerry O’Keeffe, who would pick him in the top six instead of a bowling allrounder for the first Test in Brisbane, which starts in just 10 days’ time.

"Those within the side say we need that No.6 to bowl a few overs as back up if somebody goes down,” O’Keeffe said.

"I'd pick the six best batters, that’s why I've got Bancroft in the top six because I think he's the best defensive player in the country.

"I watched him on the live feed at Hurstville Oval against the Test attack.

"He was fantastic. His defensive technique – staying side on, playing late – it's a No.3 or an opener.

"I'd pick a specialist batsman (at No.6) but they probably won't, they'll pick somebody who bowls a bit because they just have this problem if a bowler goes down.

"They've got batsmen who don't bowl like (Usman) Khawaja."

Should Bancroft be chosen he would debut in cricket’s most hyped and scrutinised Test series, but Waugh has no problem with that.

“I don’t see why not,” Waugh said if there were any reservations in picking an uncapped player.

“I was a debutant, there’s been a lot of debutants in Ashes cricket, at the end of the day it’s a game of cricket. 

“Yes, it’s the Ashes, but I think you find most players once they get out into the middle, your natural instincts take over. 

“You don’t go out there and say I’m playing an Ashes I can’t play today, it’s too nerve-wracking, you just go out there and play. 

“I don’t see having a debutant in an Ashes Test as being any harder than any other game.”

Waugh and O’Keeffe are part of Triple M’s Ashes coverage, and the former can’t wait to have his first crack at radio alongside Ashes legends like Adam Gilchrist, Sir Ian Botham, and Mitchell Johnson.

"I’ve never done any radio commentary before, it’s always been TV,” Waugh said. 

"I’m looking forward to it, a lot of good guys on the team. In an Ashes series, it’s a good series to start commentating on radio."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 INTL Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21