With a prolific start to the summer, has Cameron Bancroft done enough to force himself into the team for the opening Test?
Last summer, after Australia’s disastrous batting performances in Perth and Hobart, the selectors made it clear that those who scored runs in the next Sheffield Shield match would be seriously considered for selection.
Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb duly delivered and were selected to make their Test debuts, and have both played every match since.
The same logic applied before the Shield started this summer.
While Handscomb is assured of his spot in the batting order for the opening Test in Brisbane, Renshaw has come under pressure recently after a low run of scores.
That pressure has been compounded by Cameron Bancroft’s performances at the start of the Shield season and Renshaw could be replaced by the West Australian by sheer weight of runs.
Bancroft impressed against a star studded NSW side last week, posting scores of 76 not out and 86, while his teammates struggled against Australia’s likely bowling quartet in Brisbane.
At stumps on day one in Western Australia’s match against South Australia, Bancroft was 161 not out. He has started scoring at the perfect time in the same way that Renshaw and Handscomb did last summer.
If selectors want to pick a batsman in form then Bancroft is their man. He was close to a Test call up two summers ago but an aborted tour of Bangladesh - and the selectors placing their faith in the Queensland pair of Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns - saw him drop down the pecking order.
Recent form shows that he’s ready for higher honours and as the leading scorer in the Shield so far this season, he needs to be considered seriously.
Where he would bat is another question with three possible answers.
He could replace Renshaw as an opener, though leading into the series it seemed as if the only vacancies were at six and seven. The selectors would be inclined to keep faith in Renshaw, at least for the start of the series.
Picking Bancroft at six would represent a gamble, given that he’s scoring runs as an opener. It would also end Australia’s search for a batting allrounder in the top six.
The only other option would be at seven and that could represent even more of a risk as Bancroft has only recently starting keeping wicket in first class matches.
Wade was picked ahead of Peter Nevill last summer because he was considered the better batsman, though he hasn’t impressed with the bat and his keeping skills are inferior.
The selectors might decide that Bancroft would do no worse with the gloves and more than make up for his inexperience as a wicketkeeper with runs.
While the selectors and fans around the country ponder the team for the first Test, Bancroft has done enough to at least to make sure he’s a potential answer to whatever question is asked.