Cameron Bancroft made a sparkling return to first-class cricket after eleventh months as he carried his bat and scored 138* off 358 in the Sheffield Shield game for Western Australia against New South Wales. This is Bancroft’s first first-class game since the Newlands Test match against South Africa where he used sandpaper on the ball to alter its condition.
The opening duo of Bancroft and Sam Whiteman gave Western Australia a tidy start by putting 119 runs on the board for 1st wicket.
The wicket of Whiteman kicked off a downward slide for Western Australia. Barring Liam Guthrie, no other batsman even touched the double-figure mark thereon and WA were all out on 279, with Bancroft watching it all from the other end.
At stumps, New South Wales were three down for 188 after 66 overs. Kurtis Patterson, who made his Test debut against Sri Lanka, was batting on 57* off 104 along with former Australia U-19 skipper Jason Sangha (20* off 61) at stumps.
By carrying his bat, Bancroft has sent out a timely message to the selectors that he is vying for a place in the squad for Ashes 2019 that will be played in England after the World Cup.
In the absence of Bancroft, Australia haven’t been able to find a suitable opener. Aaron Finch came in but got dropped. Marcus Harris is yet to score a century even after playing six Tests.
Joe Burns got magnificent 180 in the second Test against SL but whether he would be able to carry his form ahead or not remains to be the biggest question.
The Sheffield Shield is the second tournament that Bancroft is playing after his return. He had made his return to Big Bash League after serving his ban of nine months.
Steven Smith and David Warner are still serving their one-year bans and will be eligible to make their returns next month.
Bancroft had a decent outing in Big Bash League where he scored 298 runs in 11 innings at 33.11, with a strike-rate of 124.68. He had been named in the Perth Scorchers’ squad during the ban period and made comeback as soon as his ban ended on December 28, 2018.