Bancroft boosts hopes for Test recall but pair of Shorts catch Thunder with their pants down in BBL thriller
Cameron Bancroft feels he is a better player than when he last played for Australia as he ramps up his case for a full-time Test recall.
With David Warner set to retire from the five-day format after the New Year’s Test against Pakistan at the SCG, a vacancy at the top of the order is imminent.
Bancroft finds himself in a three-horse race with Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw, should the national selectors opt for a specialist opener to succeed Warner for the two-Test series against West Indies in January.
While Harris was a member of Australia’s 2023 Ashes touring squad and Renshaw played two Tests in India earlier this year, Bancroft has been on the outer since playing the last of his 10 Tests back in 2019, against England at Lord’s.
“I’d like to think the longer I play, the more I’ve improved and will get better,” Bancroft said.
“That’s something that I hold myself accountable to, regardless of what may or may not happen in the future.
“I always want to learn and try to keep getting better. That’s something I pride myself on.”
Bancroft, Harris and Renshaw all have remarkably similar first-class and Test averages but the Western Australian and Sydney Thunder opener has elevated his game over the past two summers.
Bancroft was the leading run-scorer in last season’s Sheffield Shield competition, with 945 runs at 59.06, and heads this summer’s leaderboard with 512 runs at 56.88.
“I’ve said many times it would be an honour to represent my country again,” said Bancroft, whose classy 74 on Tuesday night wasn’t enough to prevent his Thunder from falling to the Adelaide Strikers in a BBL thriller.
“Like all players, you dream of playing for Australia and I’d love to do that again. It’s something I don’t have control over now.
“I’ll keep enjoying my cricket and I’m sure the fruits of that may happen in the future and will take care of itself.”
After Bancroft’s knock anchored the Thunder’s imposing 7-200 at Adelaide Oval, the unrelated Shorts – captain Matt (82 off 41 balls) and D’Arcy (66 off 47) – combined wonderfully in reply for the Strikers, who ultimately edged home with two balls remaining thanks to English import Adam Hose’s match-sealing straight six.
“It was a really true wicket and chasing 200 is always on the cards here,” Matt Short said. “Playing for Australia and different tournaments around the world the last 12 months, I definitely feel confident.”
Short, who pounded six sixes in his 41-ball knock, and unrelated namesake D’Arcy Short (66) put on 139 for the first wicket and had the hosts in control before the skipper’s departure led to the scoring rate slowing down.
Chris Lynn (14) was uncharacteristically subdued as the asking rate escalated to 35 required from the last three overs.
Adelaide took the power surge and lost Lynn, bowled by a Zaman Khan yorker, before Jake Weatherald (five) was run out in amateurish fashion, beaten by Zaman’s direct hit while dawdling to the non-striker’s end.
But Hose (28no off nine balls) kept his cool, striking three boundaries off Nathan McAndrew in the 19th over before going 4-2-6 off Zaman in the 20th, immediately after Weatherald’s embarrassment.
Earlier, Bancroft continued to press his claims for higher honours, translating his rich red-ball form to the shortest format and giving the Thunder a strong platform.
English blaster Alex Hales (18) was bowled by Matt Short attempting his fourth successive boundary before Matt Gilkes (0) departed first ball during a frenetic powerplay.
No.3 Ollie Davies (32) fell to a superb catch from Matt Short before Bancroft and Alex Ross (46) combined for an entertaining 82-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Daniel Sams tweaked his groin while tumbling for a run in his brief innings but was able to bowl, seemingly without discomfort.
Big Englishman Jamie Overton impressed in his BBL debut, snaring 2-29 and taking a wonderful outfield catch to dismiss McAndrew in the 20th over.