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Bancroft left-field keeping contender for Ashes

Western Australia 4 for 102 (Turner 52, Bancroft 41, Hazlewood 3-13) trail New South Wales 270 (Smith 76, Starc 43, Richardson 4-47) by 168 runs

Cameron Bancroft emerged as a left-field contender for Australia's Ashes wicketkeeping berth after he followed a pair of catches behind the stumps with a determined rearguard against Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in the Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Western Australia at Hurstville Oval.

Intriguingly, given the wide-open race for the Nos. 6 and 7 spots in Steven Smith's team for the first Test against England in Brisbane, the Warriors' regular wicketkeeper Josh Inglis was dropped for the game, leaving Bancroft to take the gloves and open the batting. It is only the second time in his career he has kept wicket for WA in the Shield, though he has kept multiple times for the state and also the Perth Scorchers in limited overs and Twenty20 tournaments.

Bancroft was also selected for Australia as a wicketkeeper in a single T20 international in 2016 against India at the SCG, and is believed to have been encouraged to work on his keeping in recent times. He was first considered for the Australian Test team as an opening batsman in 2015, when he was selected in the squad for that year's tour of Bangladesh, which was subsequently postponed due to security concerns.

After another wicketkeeping option Peter Nevill failed to add to his overnight tally of 32, Bancroft stood firm against Hazlewood in particular, after the tall right-armer bowled with impressive rhythm in his first match since a side strain. In doing so he damaged the Test prospects of Shaun Marsh and Hilton Cartwright, having the former caught behind waving at an angled ball, before the latter was pinned lbw by a ball cutting back.

Hazlewood followed up by perforating the defence of the WA captain Mitchell Marsh, who is not expected to be considered for international selection until he is able to bowl again after shoulder surgery earlier in the year. Those wickets left much resting on the shoulders of Bancroft, who with Ashton Turner set about giving the visitors a foothold.

Selectors are often said to consider domestic runs in the context of who they are scored against, and in Hazlewood, Starc, Cummins and Nathan Lyon, Bancroft occupied the crease against the very same bowlers who will line up against England in Brisbane. By stumps he had made it as far as 41 not out, already the highest score tallied by any wicketkeeper in this Shield round, topping the innings of Nevill and also the South Australian Alex Carey (36).

The selection of Bancroft as the Test wicketkeeper would cause plenty of consternation given his relative lack of experience behind the stumps, but it is patently clear that Smith, Australia's selectors and coaches are desperate for more runs from the middle order.