Light at the end of the tunnel for Bancroft: Ponting
Former skipper believes the Waugh-Langer combination have earmarked West Australian opener for the long term
17 August 2019, 02:52 PM AEST
Former Test skipper Ricky Ponting believes Australia coach Justin Langer and team mentor Steve Waugh have identified the kind of determination and dedication in Cameron Bancroft for which Waugh himself was renowned during his career.
Ponting thinks selectors will stick with the under-fire opener in the Ashes despite him returning three single-figure scores from three innings so far.
Ponting was impressed by reserve opener Marcus Harris during his maiden Test campaign last summer, either side of which the left-hander played out a record-breaking Sheffield Shield season, before showing solid form in the lead-up to the Ashes.
While Ponting stopped short of making a direct comparison between Bancroft and the famously determined Waugh, he believes the fact Bancroft was picked ahead of an impressive incumbent like Harris at the start of the series underlines just how highly-regarded the 26-year-old is among the team's hierarchy.
"It was a tough call in the first place, but I think the fact they made as big a decision as they did … I think they'll stick with him," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"I know that they love everything about the way he goes about his cricket. He's very professional and dedicated and brings a bit in the field.
"I know Steve Waugh is all over identifying that side of people and sticking with them. You've only got to think of his own career … it was 27 Tests before he made his first hundred and look what he turned into.
"I think there might be a bit of that sort of attitude around this group; identifying the ones you want to stick with and give a good crack at it. The fact Bancroft was picked at the start of the series says to me they've identified him as one of those guys they want for the long haul."
Ponting believes Bancroft's technique, where he can tend to fall over towards the off-side, is always a chance to be exposed when England's impressive quicks move the ball back into his pads.
But despite both Bancroft and David Warner failing to reach 15 so far in the series, he believes it's just a matter of time before at least one of them posts a big score.
"Bancroft is probably under pressure just because he hasn't made the runs he would have liked to have made," he said.
"It's a technique all of his own. He falls over a little bit and his head is always outside the line of his front foot and that generally means you're going to be susceptible to the ball coming back in. But he's found a way to make runs all over the world in the last couple of years.
"(Bancroft and Warner) are both batting at the toughest time of the innings and I think they eventually will score some runs. There'll be times when they get through the new ball and capitalise on good conditions. They've got to stick with them now."
Ponting added there's still a chance for both teams to win the rain-shortened Lord's Test, saying the tactics of the skippers early on day four will give an indication as to which way the game will go.
With Australia still trailing by 178 runs and with six wickets remaining, he says England will need to rip through the lower order quickly on the fourth morning and then bat aggressively in their second innings to set up a chance to win the game on day five.
"If they do knock Australia over early (on day four), are they going to be courageous enough to score runs quickly and set up the game?" he said. "Or will they just be happy to stay in the game and play out a draw?
"And it's the same with Australia; will they try and score quickly enough on day four to get close to England's total quickly? They probably can't afford to do that seeing as they're 4-80.
"If you try and defend and not push for a win, that's when you can get knocked over quickly and get behind in the game.
"We'll get a good idea of the thoughts of both captains once we get through the first hour tonight."
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