Haddin critical of Bancroft selection
Brad Haddin has questioned the selectors' decision to expose the part-time wicketkeeper Cameron Bancroft by choosing him for the final Twenty20 match against India at the SCG. Bancroft had previously been in the Australian frame as an opening batsman, and his glove work at fault in a critical stumping chance offered by Suresh Raina.
Cameron Boyce beat Raina through the air and off the pitch, but the ball rebounded hard off Bancroft's gloves and eluded his grasp, allowing Raina to get back. Duly reprieved second ball, Raina played the match-winning hand for India, leaving Haddin to wonder why Bancroft had been chosen overs the likes of Tim Paine and Peter Nevill.
"I'm a bit shocked with the decision to play Bancroft, because Tim Paine had a really good Big Bash, and Peter Nevill's keeping has been outstanding," Haddin told Sky Sports Radio on Monday. "His batting's been faultless because he hasn't had to bat all summer.
"I think [Bancroft] is a tremendous character and a tremendous opening batter, I think it was a big call giving him the gloves, he only had a couple of games in the Big Bash, and last night there was a stumping missed by Raina early in his innings. My feeling's that you should pick the best keeper, especially with the World Cup coming."
Haddin, who retired from international cricket after last year's Ashes series in England, pointed out that Australia's T20 plans seemed to feature the wicketkeeper batting down at Nos. 7 or 8 in the order, so wondered why the best pure gloveman was not being chosen. He had previously explained how his own comeback to the team in 2013 had been helped by the fact that Matthew Wade's technique could not stand up to the challenge of keeping to spin in India.
"Bancroft's a part-time wicketkeeper, so I don't know how Tim Paine and Peter Nevill are feeling this morning," Haddin said. "My take's always been is it's a specialist position, the same as a spinner or an opening bowler, so you pick your best wicketkeeper.
"By the looks of the Australian batting line-up the keeper's going to bat down at seven and eight anyway, so you need them taking those half chances. I don't really know the thinking behind playing Bancroft last night. But the chairman of selectors [Rod Marsh] is a wicketkeeper. I don't really know his rationale behind it."
Australia's acting captain Shane Watson had defended Bancroft, saying he should not be held responsible for the defeat. "I think Cameron Bancroft has done an excellent job for the Scorchers," Watson said. "He had a good season and he batted very well against the Sydney Thunder out at Spotless Stadium, so in the end he performed and did a really good job.
"I haven't seen his 'keeping that much, but he also saved some crucial balls as well. It's a tough game. That ball also spun out of the rough. It was the first ball that really spun all night as well. You can't just expose a guy on debut for missing a chance. That happens.
"Even guys like Brad Haddin who played all the way through his career, it happens at times. So I would never expose a young guy. I think he's done a great job to be able to get picked and he performed when he needed to. "With the gloves, he did a really good job outside of that (missed stumping)."
In addition to taking the gloves for the Perth Scorchers due to an injury suffered by Sam Whiteman, Bancroft had also kept wicket in junior and club cricket, but never for Western Australia in first-class competition.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig