JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Marathon man Bancroft in rare air
Opener's sixth Sheffield Shield innings of 300-plus balls saw him become the eighth Australian to carry his bat three times in first-class cricket
25 February 2019, 01:53 PM AEST
A 336-day stint without first-class cricket has nothing to dampen Cameron Bancroft’s powers of concentration, with a statistical examination revealing the Warriors’ century-maker remains the marathon man of Australian batting.
In his first JLT Sheffield Shield game back since his ball-tampering ban expired, Bancroft batted through Western Australia's entire first innings against NSW at Bankstown Oval for an unbeaten 138.
The opener soaked up 358 deliveries before the Warriors were bowled out for 279, one minute before his innings was set to hit the eight-hour mark.
His masterclass in application saw him become just the eighth Australian to carry their bat (as in, bat for an entire innings in which all 10 wickets fall) three times in their career (per statistician Ric Finlay), joining the likes of Bill Woodfull, Bill Lawry and Mike Hussey.
But perhaps more importantly for national selectors looking for a gauge on how Bancroft stacks up next to his peers after his extended absence, the comeback innings reaffirmed his status as domestic cricket's most immovable man.
His gritty knock represented the sixth time he's faced 300 or more deliveries in a Shield innings.
That's far beyond what any other active domestic player has managed since Bancroft's debut five summers ago.
His former Warriors teammates Adam Voges and Michael Klinger, both of whom are now retired, managed the feat five and three times respectively over that same period.
Among current players, only Moises Henriques, Peter Nevill, Alex Doolan, Will Bosisto and – remarkably given he's only played eight games – Will Pucovski have done it on multiple occasions over the past five seasons.
For context, only three active Australian men have batted for 300-plus deliveries in Test cricket during the same time-frame – Steve Smith (six times), Usman Khawaja (three times) and Joe Burns (once).
Bancroft deflected praise for his own innings on Sunday, lamenting his teammates' inability to form partnerships and build a more imposing first-innings tally.
"We had two guys get double-figure scores … that's definitely not good enough as a first-class batting unit," Bancroft said at stumps on day two.
Bancroft's ability to soak up pressure and bat time was one of the key factors in seeing him blooded at the start of last summer's Ashes.
While he never fully cemented his spot at the top of the order nor broke through for a maiden ton, he averaged a tick over 30 and formed an effective union with David Warner at the top of the order to help Australia defeat England 4-0.
It's typically overlooked given the events in Cape Town that rocked the cricket world, but Bancroft finished Australia's four-Test tour of South Africa as his side's leading run-scorer.
Nonetheless, the ball-tampering scandal derailed his fledgling international career and his path back has appeared the least certain of the trio who were rubbed out for the Cape Town plot.
But Bancroft is set to receive plenty of opportunities to push his case for a recall in the coming months. Once Western Australia's Shield season is over, he'll head to the north of England where he's set to join county side Durham.
"What's in my control is these four Shield games for Western Australia," he told ABC Grandstand ahead of WA's clash with the Blues. "I've committed to playing county cricket with Durham in the winter as well.
"They're the things I can control and really look forward to and put my energy into."
AUSTRALIANS TO CARRY THEIR BAT THREE TIMES IN FIRST-CLASS CRICKET:
(per Ric Finlay)
Michael di Venuto
BATSMEN FACING 300+ DELIVERIES IN A SHEFFIELD SHIELD INNINGS (SINCE ’13-14):
Cameron Bancroft – 6 times
Michael Klinger - 5
Adam Voges - 3
Moises Henriques - 2
Ryan Carters - 2
Peter Nevill - 2
Alex Doolan - 2
Will Pucovski - 2
William Bosisto - 2