Bancroft, Harris will have their chances: Cummins

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | January 16, 2024 IST

Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris

David Warner has retired from Test cricket. Steven Smith has been finally given a chance to open in the first Test in Adelaide against West Indies, which starts on Wednesday. Cameron Green has also made a comeback into Australia's red-ball internationals.

But all that may not continue for a long period. The two potential top order contenders Cameron Bancroft and Marcus Harris, still are very much in Australia's Test match scheme of things.

The two openers have been denied an opportunity in the Australian Test team. The third opener Matthew Renshaw though has been included in the squad, but mostly as a reserve opener and will not be playing the Adelaide Test.

But Australian skipper Pat Cummins has categorically stated that both Harris and Bancroft will be considered for future assignments. 

Bancroft was almost first choice opener till the Cape Town 'Sandpaper-gate Scandal' in 2018, which was a black spot in Australian cricket. Both Warner and Smith were taken into task. Bancroft faced ban as well.  

Though Warner and Smith returned finally to the Aussie squad n both white and red ball formats, but Bancroft continues to wait for his turn.

With Usman Khawaja grabbing his chances with both hands, chances of Bancroft or Harris making a comeback into Australia's Test squad has been difficult at times.

Following Warner's retirement, an opener's slot could have gone either to Bancroft or Renshaw, but Smith's elevation t the top has temporarily delayed that too. 

But as per Cummins, in the wake of David Warner's retirement, the Australian cricket team is undergoing a strategic shuffle, and captain Cummins has been proactive in maintaining communication with overlooked players Bancroft and Harris. Despite not making the current Test squad, Cummins reassured them of their continued consideration.

With Steven Smith elevated to the opening slot and Cameron Green returning at No. 4 against the West Indies, Cummins emphasized that Bancroft and Harris, both specialist openers, are still valued for their contributions in first-class cricket. Bancroft, the leading Sheffield Shield run-scorer last season, and Harris, with a central contract, have been encouraged to stay on course as potential replacements in the future.

“Obviously private phone calls, but no real surprises," Cummins said in Adelaide. "We love what they both are doing in first-class cricket. We love what they bring to any side they're playing in. They're doing all the right things. Unfortunately, they both just missed out on this one. So (the) message was 'don't change'.

"In international cricket, there's always injuries or these guys (the incumbents) aren't going to be around forever. Marcus and Cam are still relatively young, as is Renners. So once that opening comes up at some point, any one of them we're confident can jump straight in and do a really good job.”

Cummins, initially cautious about a batting-order reshuffle, now sees the logic behind Smith's promotion, enabling Green to return to a more natural position. Smith, eager for the challenge, has committed to this change as a long-term solution, bringing renewed energy to the team.

The retirement of Warner and Green's comeback not only impacts the batting order but also prompts changes in the fielding setup. Usman Khawaja assumes first slip, followed by Smith and Mitchell Marsh, while Green showcases his exceptional fielding skills in the gully. Cummins acknowledges the excitement Smith brings to the team and anticipates more scoring options with the new ball.

"Seeing someone who's basically achieved everything in the game get really excited for a new challenge, you've got to entertain that," he said. "You can already see his mind whirring about how he's maybe going to go about it a bit differently.

"I've never seen him as happy and as energetic as I've seen him around the nets the last couple of days. He can't wait to get out there. Also think the new ball, maybe [there will be] a few more scoring options. It's something that excites him. So that makes sense and getting Greeny a spot where we think he is set up to succeed.”

The inclusion of Green, a versatile player providing both batting prowess and an additional bowling option, expands Cummins' tactical arsenal. With a six-man attack and the off-spin of Travis Head, the Australian captain is gearing up for a well-rounded approach in the upcoming matches. (With IANS support)

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