Cam Bancroft: Selection chair George Bailey denies issues between WA opener and Test bowlers

Jackson Barrett
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Cameron Bancroft was snubbed for Australia’s Test squad to play two Tests against West Indies later this month.
Cameron Bancroft was snubbed for Australia’s Test squad to play two Tests against West Indies later this month. Credit: RICHARD WAINWRIGHT/AAPIMAGE

National selection chair George Bailey has flatly denied there is a rift between Cameron Bancroft and a faction of the Test team that has ruled him out of being picked to play for Australia again.

Bancroft was snubbed for Australia’s Test squad to play two Tests against West Indies later this month, despite leading the Sheffield Shield run-scoring charts for two seasons.

Selectors had been urged to come forward if personal issues between Bancroft and the team’s star bowling group over comments he made around their involvement in the 2018 sandpaper scandal were the reason for his non-selection.

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But as he confirmed Steve Smith’s move to open the batting, Bailey was adamant Queenslander Matthew Renshaw was Australia’s seventh-best batter, ahead of Bancroft and Marcus Harris in the pecking order.

There are now fears around Bancroft’s future prospects in the team, with Bailey also flagging Renshaw was the next cab off the rank to open the batting when 37-year-old Usman Khawaja retires.

That’s despite what the selection chief called a “phenomenal” domestic record from the West Australian opener.

“I am glad you asked that, because I wanted to touch on it,” Bailey responded when probed about Bancroft’s relationship with Test incumbents.

“Categorically, no. I have shared this with Cameron on a number of occasions. It has never, at any stage, been discussed.

“From the panel’s perspective, (this is) purely a cricketing decision.

“There is not a member of the team that would have any issue with Cam playing. We certainly don’t have an issue with it and I think a lot of people tend to forget that Cam has actually played Test cricket since returning from the ban.

George Bailey in Perth last month.
George Bailey in Perth last month. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

“It was a long time ago - we have all moved well past that. I’d be disappointed if people were looking to that as a reason and all I can do is reiterate to you and to Cam that is not the case... never has been and never will be.

“I think ultimately you can mount statistically some strong cases for a number of players. Cam is one of those, Marcus Harris (is another).

“Cam’s Sheffield Shield record over the last couple of years has been phenomenal, and it has made this decision really challenging — a line-ball call.

“Ultimately, the decision to get Cam (Green) into the team was around - we want our best six batters playing and as it currently stands the panel sees Matt Renshaw as our next best batsman.”

Bancroft has not played Test cricket since saying in a 2021 interview it was “self-explanatory” there was wider knowledge in the side of the ball-tampering ploy he carried out. The bowlers — Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc — released a statement in response to those comments in May of that year.

Asked what else Bancroft, who has already scored 512 runs at 56.89 in six Shield matches this summer, needed to do to force his way into the side, Bailey simply suggested he “keep doing what you are doing”.

Cameron Bancroft.
Cam Bancroft can consider himself unlucky. Credit: AAP/AAP

“He is banging down the door. As I said, I think there are a number of players that are banging down the door, and that is great,” he said.

“It is not a bad thing that you are having to make line-ball decisions, it is actually a really good thing.

“There will be opportunities going forward, and there is no doubt that part of cricket selection is being in the right place at the right time.

“I imagine it is hollow for those guys at the moment, but it is the age-old thing of you have got to keep doing what you are doing.”

Bailey denied the move to elevate Smith, one of Australia’s greatest-ever middle-order batters, was an “experiment” and flagged Smith could retire as an opening batter.

“Steve Smith will be opening the batting and Cameron Green will come into the No.4 position, which is fantastic,” he said.

“There were a number of factors, first and foremost our regard with which we hold Cameron (Green) and I think the way the rest of that batting order is functioning left us feeling like we have someone who is pretty talented, who potentially would find it hard to get any Test cricket in the next period, 12 months or so.

“I think we can get a lot of benefits out of him playing. Working through some of the solutions to that and how he could potentially slot in and where that could be.

“Steve is obviously motivated and energised and keen to do it, there were plenty within the team that were pretty keen to go on record and say they weren’t keen to do it.

“It was refreshing that Steve did come forward and say he wanted to do it.

“We had been chatting about it in the background as a selection panel, with the coaches as well and with Pat, just around who — if you were going to re-jig it — what some of the potential options were.”

Bailey also floated Perth Scorchers captain and WA all-rounder Aaron Hardie as a prospect for Test honours sooner rather than later, alongside Queensland middle-order option Nathan McSweeney.

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