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Bancroft's case for Test recall could prove hard to ignore

The opener's prolific season has put him firmly in the race for a place in the Ashes squad

Cameron Bancroft capped off a superb season, Western Australia vs Victoria, Sheffield Shield, Final, WACA, March 26, 2023

Cameron Bancroft capped off a superb season  •  Getty Images

Prolific opener Cameron Bancroft, quite fittingly, hit the winning runs to secure Western Australia's Sheffield Shield title to cap a dominant season which has him poised for selection in Australia's upcoming Ashes tour.
Bancroft made a typically composed 39 not out and combined with teenager Teague Wyllie to ensure WA had no wobbles passing the lowly 91-run target in a nine-wicket victory over Victoria at the WACA.
"A little bit nerve-racking, was more than happy for Teague to have a dip [at the winning runs],"grinned Bancroft after the final. "Pretty special moment, something I will remember forever."
The 30-year-old Bancroft finished as the Shield's leading scorer with 945 runs at an average of 59 with four centuries. He scored 289 more runs than second-placed South Australia batter Daniel Drew and faced 664 balls more than him.
Those feats were even more meritorious considering the plethora of bowler-friendly wickets during this Shield season, particularly at the WACA.
"Cameron's been building to a season like this for a little while now," WA coach Adam Voges said. "Technically, I think he's in a much better space than he has been previously."
Bancroft played 10 Tests sandwiched between a lengthy ban for his part in the infamous ball-tampering scandal, with the last being during the 2019 Ashes in the UK. The saga seemed to take its toll with Bancroft's career in limbo having been dropped from Western Australia's Shield team a couple of years ago.
But he's slowly resurrected his career with a more formidable Bancroft now at the crease. He still has the innate ability to grind down bowlers but notably added attacking flair and bats at a better tempo, as Bancroft showcased during Perth Scorchers' BBL title run having started the season on the outer.
"He's always had those really remarkable powers of concentration and ability to bat for long periods of time and now that he's technically in a better place, I think that just allows him to be able to draw on that strength," Voges said.
Some of Bancroft's improvement can be credited to private coaching from Justin Langer, his childhood hero and former coach. "Justin was absolutely brilliant...just talking about my mindset," said Bancroft, who played in all three titles this season.
"There was a couple of cues that worked for him as a player...that I can relate to. His guidance and his experience and his knowledge that he has shared with me this season has been really invaluable."
There won't be much time to bask in WA's latest triumph with Bancroft heading to the UK on a short county stint which was confirmed with Somerset on Monday where he will play four matches. It looms as another step towards selection in Australia's Ashes squad magnified by uncertainty over veteran David Warner's future.
"The focus shifts pretty quick from this onto that [county cricket]," Bancroft said. "The dreams and aspirations of playing higher are always there, and I'm sure they are for all cricketers but I just tried to finish this season off really well and then move on to the next lot of cricket I'm playing."
With Bancroft having resuscitated his game, those who have watched him deflate bowlers all season believe he's primed to relaunch his Test career.
"I think he deserves a spot on the plane to go to England in the winter," Voges said. "I think you're always more ready the second time around. He'll learn from the experiences and he'll certainly be much better for it."

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth