Bancroft belter backs up bold Waugh declaration
Labelled the best short leg fielder he'd ever seen by Steve Waugh, Cameron Bancroft showed why with a stunning one-hander
Sam Ferris at Lord's Cricket Ground, London
16 August 2019, 12:29 AM AEST
Cameron Bancroft lived up to Steve Waugh's claim that he is the best bat-pad he has ever seen with an extraordinary catch on day two at Lord's.
Fielding close in on the leg-side with express paceman Pat Cummins charging in, Bancroft plucked a brilliant catch on the second attempt to remove obdurate England opener Rory Burns for 53 in the afternoon session of the second Ashes Test.
Having been bombarded by a barrage of Cummins bouncers, and struck twice on the torso, Burns fended another short ball from the world No.1 Test bowler down to the on-side.
But Bancroft was there waiting just 4.36 metres from the batsman, anticipating the shot and following the path of the ball to his left.
While he missed the catch on first try, he had the presence of mind to stay with the ball to reel it in just millimetres off the hallowed Lord's turf.
The third umpire was asked to double-check the ball had not hit the ground, but once the replays confirmed the catch was clean, Burns walked off having been dropped on 16 and 47.
Steve Waugh "has never seen anything like" Cam Bancroft's short leg fielding 😮 #Ashes pic.twitter.com/8IXYMPYiWt— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) July 30, 2019
"No wonder Rory Burns does not want to walk off, he couldn't believe it was taken," said Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara on Sky Sports commentary.
According to Cricviz, Bancroft has taken 11 catches fielding at bat-pad without putting one down.
Those figures back up Waugh's claim that Bancroft is the finest short-leg he has come across after being blown away by the opener's skills during his time with the Australian camp this tour.
Gosh Bancroft is amazing in there 😍 stunning catch!! 👏🏼 gosh I’m happy there’s play today. #Ashes— Megan Schutt (@megan_schutt) August 15, 2019
"The one thing I have been amazed by is Cameron Bancroft's short-leg practice," Waugh said prior to the first Ashe Test at Edgbaston.
"I had a session with him the other day and I've never seen anything like it.
"When we were playing, no-one wanted to be in at short-leg and it was like a torture chamber to put someone in there.
"But he just loves it, and his training is just out of this world.
"I hit probably 40 balls to him at close range.
"Back in our day he might have caught ten of those – I think he caught 39.
"England beware because he's the best short-leg I've ever seen."
Bancroft's brilliance at bat-pad is hardly a new phenomenon.
Four years ago, NSW Blues left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe foreshadowed Waugh's words by calling out Bancroft's talent after playing alongside him during Australia A's tour of India.
"Bancroft’s probably the best bat-pad I've ever seen," O’Keefe said in the wake of a 22-year-old Bancroft being selected on the two-Test tour to Bangladesh that was ultimately postponed.
"Don't be surprised to see, if he does play, some special grabs in there at bat-pad.
"He's got no fear, he's the sort of bloke that when the batsman goes back to pull, he won't be ducking – he'll be throwing his body in front of the ball.
"He took a couple of special grabs in India and it wasn't a surprise to any of his teammates because he does that consistently."
The now 26-year-old spoke about how he has worked at fielding at bat-pad since he was thrown into the position as a youngster at Western Australia.
"Being the youngest bloke in the squad you get chucked in at bat-pad, don't you?" Bancroft said ahead of his Test debut against England in the 2017-18 Ashes in Australia.
"I think at the start I just did the role because I was the youngest player in the side.
"Then I took a couple of really good chances ... and thought there's probably no one in the world who sits there and goes 'I want to be really good at this'.
"I remember a couple of years ago at the cricket academy, I really worked hard on it and I set myself a goal to be really good in that position. I've embraced the challenge."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: August 14-18,Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval