First it was Phillip Hughes. Then it was Ed Cowan. Then Chris Rogers. Then Joe Burns. Then Shaun Marsh. This year it looked like being Matt Renshaw, but instead will be Cameron Bancroft. This is the roll call of batsmen who have started Australia's Test summers as David Warner's opening partner; Rogers is the only man to have done so more than once. A new opening colleague for Warner every summer is becoming a tradition in Australian cricket.
Renshaw may be unlucky to have been dropped following an encouraging start to his Test career, but Bancroft certainly comes to the role with strong credentials as a foil for the destructive Warner. If patience is a virtue, no player in Australia in recent years has been as virtuous as Bancroft. In 2015, he occupied the crease for a remarkable 797 minutes in compiling 211 for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield game against a strong New South Wales attack.
And after entering this summer fresh from a 512-minute double-century for Gloucestershire at the tail end of the county season, Bancroft carried his bat for 76 and then scored 86 in the second innings against a New South Wales attack boasting Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon. Then he followed up with another double-hundred next game against South Australia.
"I certainly think I can get better at concentrating and batting for long periods of time," Bancroft said on Tuesday. That seems a near unattainable goal. In the recent game against New South Wales, Bancroft was involved in every delivery for the first three and a half days of the contest: wicketkeeping, carrying his bat, wicketkeeping again, and then nearly reaching a century as opener in the second innings.
"Most of us were in his ear the whole game," Hazlewood said this week. "He's a good fighter, I guess, and he's put the runs on the board this summer, and in previous summers."
Warner's observations of that Shield match were that Bancroft was technically sound and knew his own game well. "He looks very complete in the nets," Warner said. "I've been very, very happy with what I've seen of him."
This is not the first time Bancroft has been within touching distance of a baggy green. In 2015, he was chosen in Australia's squad for the Test tour of Bangladesh when Warner was injured. Bancroft would have opened alongside Burns on that trip, but the tour was postponed for security reasons. An inconsistent stretch of form followed for Bancroft, who admits that at times he can be too intense, too focused for his own good.
"It was difficult, I just wanted it so badly," Bancroft said. "I wanted it so badly and I wasn't patient enough. It took me a little while just to sit back and kind of go, this is where I want to go, just got to trust it ... I can get a bit tense and try a bit too hard at times. I think over the last five years of my career it's been something I've had to learn and develop.
"Having that work ethic and that intensity is a really good thing and a really positive thing in the right times but learning when those times are, that's part of the challenge of being a professional cricketer and it's probably taken me a lot of time to learn about it."
Bancroft was "stitched up" (in the words of Warner) this week when told jokingly that new players in the team have to make a speech at dinner; Bancroft did so without hesitation. But one task he won't have to be tricked into is fielding under the helmet at short-leg. Typically, that position is thrust upon the newest member of the side, but Bancroft has made short-leg his own specialist spot.
"At the start, I just did the role because I was the youngest player in the [Western Australia] side," he said. "Then I took a couple of really good chances and I thought about it and thought, there's probably no-one really in the world who sits there and thinks 'I want to be really good at this'. I remember a couple of years ago at the cricket academy I worked really hard on it and set myself a goal to be really good in that position.
"There's a lot of luck involved, or reaction. I think wicketkeeping helped - my ability to stay low and things like that ... I have fun doing it. I feel like you're always in the game, and I love the prospect of being able to make a difference to the game by taking a catch or even stopping a run that gets flicked and it hits you or something. It's a challenge that I embrace."