Category Archives: 2015 Aus A in India

Ban(croft) For Your Buck

With the Australian Test side imploding so dreadfully at Edgbaston, one performance yesterday by an Australian batsman escaped the attention of many.

Yesterday, Cameron Bancroft, the 22-year old Western Australian opener, scored 150 off 267 balls for Australia A against India A in Chennai. Bancroft’s innings was all the more impressive considering it was part of a team score of 9/329 and was made against former Indian Test bowlers such as Varun Aaron and Pragyan Ohja. No other batsman in the Australia A team scored higher than 54, and India A had already been bowled out for 135. This was no batsman’s paradise. Bancroft’s big ton came after scores of 2 and 51 in Australia A’s first tour match last week.

Bancroft’s innings could be timely. Since the beginning of the current Ashes series, Chris ‘Buck’ Rogers has clearly regretted mentioning the likelihood of his retirement at the end of the series as it has created a distraction for him, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.

Bancroft may have just stormed to the front of the queue of players competing to replace Rogers. He has only played 23 first class matches to date, but was the third highest run scorer in the 2013-14 Sheffield Shield with 896 runs at 47.15 with 3 centuries and a top score of 211. It was this performance that won him selection for the current tour of India by Australia A.

With Adam Voges (who, incidentally, was the Shield’s top scorer in 2014-15 with 1,358 runs at 104.46) struggling to retain his Test place, one would think the selectors will give Shaun Marsh first crack. Personally, I wouldn’t – I think both Marsh brothers are almost as over-rated by the selectors as Shane Watson was, although Mitchell Marsh, at only 23, shows promise if given enough time to develop. Unfortunately, in the current Ashes squad there are no other batting alternatives to Shaun.

Assuming Rogers retires this year and Voges is dropped, a vacancy will open up (possibly two, if Michael Clarke retires, but’s that for another post).

In fairness, Joe Burns is almost certainly the next batsman to be picked. He’s already played two Tests and didn’t do badly (two half centuries in the second of his two Tests in the summer of 2014-15). Burns earned his Test debut against India in Australia last summer batting at No. 6, mostly because the selectors couldn’t squeeze him in anywhere else. But I think it’s fair to say they envision him batting at the top of the order (he opens the batting for Queensland, after all) once Rogers retires. Moreover, Burns, who will be 26 in September, is a little further advanced than Bancroft, with 3,799 first class runs at 41.29 from 59 matches. In the 2014-15 Sheffield Shield, he was the sixth highest run scorer with 793 runs at 52.86 with 2 centuries and a top score of 183.

But nothing is certain. Burns is currently on the Australia A tour of India as well but was out for only 8 in yesterday’s game (in which Bancroft made 150). He did not play in the first match last week. Moreover, he has had a less than stellar season playing for Middlesex this year, where he has made only 320 runs at 29.09, with a top score of 87.

You’re only as good as your last season. Once Buck retires, Burns might need to look over his shoulder for Bancroft.

(So you do get the headline for this post? Bancroft for your Buck; i.e. Buck Rogers? Well, I thought it was almost clever. Wow, there’s no pleasing some people. )