Cameron Bancroft has seemingly stormed into Australia’s Ashes squad with an unbeaten match-winning knock of 93 that could result in him reuniting with David Warner at the top of the order for the first Test.
Bancroft, returning to a national side for the first time since copping a nine-month ban for his role in the ball-tampering scandal, dominated day three of the intra-squad clash in Southampton.
The opener resumed on 25 on Thursday and carefully pushed his side to a victorious 5-156, with Tim Paine stroking the winning run.
Mitchell Starc proved his injury scare was nothing serious, steaming in and inflicting painful blows to both Bancroft and Paine.
The left-armer, who didn’t bowl on day two and was sent for scans because of a sore knee, had Mitch Marsh out edging for 23 but couldn’t find a way to end Bancroft’s composed 194-ball dig.
Warner was the only other batsman to pass 50 in the low-scoring selection showdown that will decide the final few spots up for grabs in the squad named at 9pm AEST on Friday.
Marcus Harris was expected to open with Warner in the Ashes but Bancroft, having stared down an attack featuring Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle, could yet be preferred at Edgbaston.
“It could be about combinations, I’m not too sure. We’ll have to wait and see tomorrow as well. There might be a big innings there,” a diplomatic Warner said after day two, when asked who he’d prefer to open with.
Asked specifically about Bancroft, who he corrupted last year in Cape Town according to Cricket Australia’s probe of the saga, Warner was full of praise.
“He scraps away, he’s very good at that,” Warner said after top-scoring for his team with 58.
“He had good intent, he was moving his feet forward and committing … the guys that actually had that attention to detail and adapt, they’ve done very well.”
No batsman has spent as long at the crease in this match as Bancroft.
The watchful West Australian excelled amid a testing examination from Starc, as was the case when his superb application in a 2017 Sheffield Shield clash at Sydney’s Hurstville Oval resulted in a Test debut.
Jon Holland, likely to be picked as reserve spinner in the Ashes squad, removed Matthew Wade and would have dismissed Peter Handscomb if not for a dropped catch from Marnus Labuschagne.