“A batsman with a sound technique, Bancroft was considered to be the solution to Australia’s opening woes, but six weeks down the line, he is fighting for his spot. Such is the race in International cricket”.
Yes, Australia have regained the Ashes Urn and are in good control of the final Test in Sydney. They might win the series 4-0, but does that mean this side is well balanced and does not have any loophole? Of course, not, there are few weaknesses that need to be addressed before the upcoming South African tour in March.
Prior to the start of the series, Australia did have some problems, they didn’t have a settled opening pair, middle-order was uncertain, etc. But England failed to capitalise on it, as a result of which, paid the price. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying that, this series win was more about Australia’s dominance with the ball and England’s mediocre bowling. English bowlers failed to test Australia’s Achilles heels on a regular basis.
Australian selectors have done a commendable job in handpicking players riding on form and do deserve a round of applause as most of their moves paid off. Cameron Bancroft was given a go riding on some pristine form in the Sheffield Shield. He got a double ton just before the Brisbane Test and had enough confidence to take on the big guns in the series opener.
Bancroft kick-started his Ashes campaign with a bang and immense promise with a tenacious 82 to help Australia register a massive win in the second innings. But with every innings, his performance has only decreased and has failed to garner big runs since then. In eight innings so far, Bancroft has 179 runs under his belt at a modest average of 25.57.
Bancroft has not managed to stamp his authority with the bat and is yet to get his maiden Test ton. He did get solid starts, but failed to convert, which is criminal at this level. In the ongoing Sydney Test, he was undone for a duck and further squandered another golden opportunity to make an impact. This dismissal also shed some light on his possible weakness.
Australian selectors did show a lot of faith in his abilities and the team stuck with him for five games so far, but time is certainly running out on the stylish batsman. Australia will be touring South Africa next, which is also the toughest place to open the batting against the red ball. With parched runs column, Bancroft is not helping his cause and very unlikely to retain his spot for the upcoming tour.
Time running for Bancroft
Talking about his dismissal in Sydney, this was also the fourth time, Bancroft was dismissed while attempting to drive the red leather. At this level, a technical flaw is brutally exposed, and such seems to be the case with Bancroft. English bowlers have exploited his weakness with the new ball and Bancroft surely needs to work on it.
Former Australian legend Mark Taylor pointed an interesting flaw in his technique. Taylor told Channel Nine Network, “It’s been an issue that Cameron Bancroft has had exposed in this series. You can see where he has fallen throughout the series to the quickies, it is where you are going to get a lot of Test bowlers bowling to you.”
“A good length, on or around the off stump line. If they move slightly away, it is going to bring in the edge and if there is a gap between bat and pad, which there is with Bancroft, then the ball is heading towards the stumps (if it swings back),” Taylor added.
If the selectors decide to give Bancroft a longer rope, the challenge in South Africa will only get tougher. The kind of pace attack South Africa have, problems will only increase for Bancroft if he doesn’t work on his technique.
Australia will be happy with the things have fared in the series so far. But they cannot afford to overlook few problems that do exist in their line-up. Although the recall of Marsh brothers have provided a solid answer to their middle-order woes, but a misfiring Bancroft is not helping their cause. Most likely, he might get another chance to make an impression and if so, he should come out all guns blazing and get a big score.
A batsman with a sound technique, Bancroft was considered to be the solution to Australia’s opening woes, but six weeks down the line, he is fighting for his spot. Such is the race in International cricket. Although five Tests is too less a sample space to judge Bancroft’s abilities but a technical deficiency does exist. With Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns also in the race, the competition is only getting tougher and Bancroft needs to step up.