ENGLAND DOMESTIC CRICKET
Cameron Bancroft’s time at Durham could be curtailed if he gets selected to play for Australia in the Ashes © Getty
Durham have appointed Australian overseas batsman Cameron Bancroft as their captain for this season’s County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup campaigns.
Bancroft is a controversial choice for the role given he has recently returned from a nine-month ban for his part in the Australian ball tampering affair in Cape Town last year. The 26-year-old was caught using sandpaper on the ball during the third Test against South Africa and was subsequently found to have followed instructions from opening batsman David Warner to do so. Warner and captain Steve Smith were banned for 12 months each for their roles in the episode.
The incident brought Bancroft’s Test career to a halt after just eight matches in which he had averaged a shade over 30. He had done enough in his limited opportunities to suggest he had the game for the highest level but without ever fully nailing down his spot. Bancroft said later that one of the most galling things about the whole episode was that he had given up his place in the team through his actions.
He returned to action for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash in December and then scored an unbeaten hundred against New South Wales in February in his first first-class match since the ban. It proved that he had lost little of his talent and ability to bat for long periods – something of a rarity in Australian cricket at present. And with Australia still on the lookout for a consistent opening pair after their series loss to India, Bancroft’s name is likely to be included in the Ashes squad for this summer’s series against England.
Should he be selected, his time at Durham would be curtailed although he should be available for at least nine Championship games and the whole of the one-day tournament.
Bancroft will join up with Durham for their second Championship match against Sussex at Emirates Riverside, starting on April 11, after being asked by Cricket Australia to attend an end of season dinner back home. He will miss the opening Championship match as a result and batsman Alex Lees will captain in his stead.
Durham Cricket’s Lead High Performance Coach, James Franklin, said: “We’re delighted to have Cameron with us for the season and we’re confident he has the attributes to lead this exciting young Durham dressing room.
“He has invaluable experience at the top level and has enjoyed a successful spell in England before, during his time with Gloucestershire. He’s proven since returning to first-class cricket over the last few months that he has the mental toughness, skill and attitude to excel at the highest level and I’m sure he will relish the challenge we have at Durham this season.”