Bancroft casts Test snub aside to form record-breaking union

One half of WA's most prolific opening partnership, Cameron Bancroft has once again had a standout campaign despite being overlooked for higher honours

Bucket-hands Bancroft: All 29 catches of record-breaking season

Stung by his latest exclusion from the Test team, Cameron Bancroft’s record-breaking opening partnership with unsung partner Sam Whiteman shapes as a key factor in Western Australia’s bid for a Marsh Sheffield Shield three-peat.

Bancroft, the Sheffield Shield's leading run scorer over the past three seasons, and Whiteman, WA's captain and himself a prolific batter, will take on a strong Tasmania outfit at the WACA Ground next week.

The reigning champions will host the decider despite trailing the Tigers on the standings for most of the season until a final-round slip-up saw Whiteman's men bring the five-day decider to Perth for a third year in a row.

"We have absolutely no idea what has transpired in the last week," Bancroft told reporters having helped WA to victory over fellow final aspirants Victoria. "You couldn't script it. We went about our business and the gods were towering over us."

But Bancroft's latest strong campaign comes despite the 31-year-old admitting the blow of being overlooked to replace David Warner in the Test side earlier this year hit him hard.

"Naturally I was very disappointed. I would have loved to be in that environment," he said.

"There were some consolations to come out of it. I tried to stay with those and go about my business.

"Initially it was allowing myself to experience what I was experiencing.

"Sometimes as players in sport it's about moving on to the next thing. But on this occasion, I felt that I needed to allow myself to be a little bit disappointed and that was actually okay.

"Once that digested, you bring yourself back to what's important and what you need to do."

Webster's stellar season has him 'next man in' for Test team: Wade

In a Shield season dominated by seam bowlers, WA's boasting of the only two openers among the competition's top 10 run scorers has been a major factor in their surge to the final.

Bancroft (who has scored 778 runs at 48.62 this season) and Whiteman (658 at 48.06) have not only had standout campaigns despite often treacherous batting conditions against the new ball, but have also become WA's most prolific opening pair.

Geoff Marsh and Mike Veletta's benchmark of 3,470 runs while batting together had been record for three decades until Bancroft and Whiteman (3,567 runs in partnership) passed them this season.

"It's something that we're both really proud of," said Bancroft, who suggested Whiteman should also be among those considered for a Test batting spot.

"All the boys, all the staff always call us 'Swamp' and 'Wag' (after) Geoff Marsh and Mike Veletta, they were the two prior to that who were leading that.

"We've always really respected what they did at the top of the order in that era.

"I know that Sam and I, when we walk out into battle, we embrace that.

"He's obviously a really good mate of mine. We've played cricket since underage stuff against and with each other. It's nice when you're walking out with one of your really good mates and know each other's game as well and you know you're not alone out there.

"Hopefully there's still plenty more runs in our partnership."

Bancroft’s impressive summer has also seen him take 29 catches, beating Peter Handscomb’s record of 27 from two seasons ago.

WA's run to the final comes despite a host of injuries to mainstays like Ashton Turner, Jhye Richardson, Lance Morris and Matt Kelly, while Test allrounders Cameron Green and Mitch Marsh are heading to the IPL instead of the playing the final.

Joel Paris has led the attack with 37 victims at just 14.08, while lesser lights Corey Rocchiccioli (39 wickets, the most in a season by a WA spinner in four decades), Charlie Stobo, Cameron Gannon and Liam Haskett have rounded out an effective bowling attack.

Bancroft suggested they would likely stick with the five-bowler line-up they have fielded in the past two matches, despite an expectation Aaron Hardie will be available to bowl after facing the Vics as a batter only.

"There have been times this season when we didn't look like we were going to make the final at all and we've had to really dig deep to get that ascendancy back in our favour," said Bancroft. "We've had to work really hard to get to this point now."

Sheffield Shield 2023-24 standings

Matches played
No results
Batting Bonus
Bowling Bonus
Total points
1 Western Australia Men Western Australia Men WA 10 5 2 3 0 0 5.53 9.4 47.93
2 Tasmanian Tigers Men Tasmanian Tigers Men TAS 10 5 2 3 0 0 6.06 8.3 47.36
3 NSW Men NSW Men NSW 10 4 3 3 0 0 6.31 9 42.31
4 Victoria Men Victoria Men VIC 10 4 4 2 0 0 4.74 8.2 38.94
5 South Australia Men South Australia Men SA 10 3 6 1 0 0 5.19 9.3 33.49
6 Queensland Bulls Queensland Bulls QLD 10 2 6 2 0 0 3.54 8.3 25.84

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

D: Drawn

N/R: No results

Ded.: Deductions

Bat: Batting Bonus

Bowl: Bowling Bonus

PTS: Total points