JLT Sheffield Shield 2017-18
Tireless Bancroft bolts into Test frame
Western Australian spent all but 24.4 overs of Warriors' star-studded Sheffield Shield clash on the field
AAP & Cricket Network
7 November 2017, 10:31 PM AEST
Western Australia opener Cameron Bancroft's marathon effort in the Warriors' star-studded JLT Sheffield Shield clash with NSW should jog national selectors' memories of his abilities.
Bancroft's defiant unbeaten 76 against a Test strength NSW attack at Sydney's Hurstville Oval on Monday represented the first time a wicketkeeper had carried his bat through an entire Shield innings.
It was also the highest score this season by a wicketkeeper in a Shield game, a mark the right-hander bettered a day later when he struck a second-innings 86 against Australia's likely Test attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.
When Bancroft departed – lbw to Cummins – late on day four in the midst of a disastrous WA collapse of 10-44, it was the first time in the match he'd not been on the field of play for the action.
His feats have been the most notable efforts by a gloveman through two Shield rounds, with incumbent Matthew Wade and challengers Peter Nevill and Alex Carey all failing to post a substantial score so far this season.
While Bancroft did keep wicket on international debut in a T20 for Australia last year, he is a part-time stumper rather than a regular custodian behind the stumps.
He did the job for the Warriors during their title-winning JLT One-Day Cup campaign, but this was only his second time in his 65 first-class matches he's had the gloves on for the whole match.
This might be a little left field but in my opinion not a risky one....@cbancroft4 should play in the first @CricketAus #Ashes Test as WK!— Marcus North (@Marcus_North) November 7, 2017
With promising WA 'keeper Sam Whiteman out with a long-term finger injury and his replacement Josh Inglis overlooked for the NSW game, Bancroft grabbed his chance and says he's open to perform any role that's asked of him.
"It's a role that I feel confident enough to do well in," the 24-year-old told AAP after day three.
"I've just done it in the one-day tournament, so I've had plenty of practice under my belt.
"I enjoy keeping, you're always in the game.
"I love opening the batting at the same time. It's difficult to balance the two, but whatever the team needs."
While Australia's two opening positions would appear to be filled by vice-captain David Warner and young gun Matthew Renshaw, Bancroft could be an outside chance for the vacant No.6 position in the Test side to face England in the first Test.
Bancroft was on the verge of a Test debut in 2015 when he was chosen in the squad to go to Bangladesh before the tour was postponed less than 48 hours before they were due to depart.
Asked about his Test aspirations, Bancroft said: "I just keep scoring runs for Western Australia and you never know what can happen down the track; of course, that's a dream."
Bancroft doesn't possess the stunning attacking strokeplay of an Adam Gilchrist but he proved on Monday he could blunt the sharpest attack.
Watched by national selector Mark Waugh, he stood his ground against one of the strongest bowling attacks fielded in the Sheffield Shield in recent memory.
"They are just relentless, they are always at you, always asking questions every ball," Bancroft said.
"I knew it was going to be hard work to score runs, but it was a nice challenge."
His resolution was noted and praised by Starc, who created history by becoming the first bowler to claim a hat-trick in both innings of a Sheffield Shield match.
"He did a good job to sort of grind through the tough period," Starc said.
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