Cricket

Cameron Bancroft beats a path to selectors’ door with determined 93*

Hick XII 120 and 156 for 5 (Bancroft 93*) beat Haddin XII 105 and 170 by 6 wickets

Cameron Bancroft inched his way to the defining innings of a low-scoring scrap in Southampton to give himself the best possible chance of being named in Australia’s Ashes squad on Friday, and also help the Hick XII to victory over the Haddin XII in an internal trial match played on a dicey pitch.

All the qualities that saw Bancroft first picked for Australia in 2017 – dogged defence, absorption of quality bowling and a limited game around which others can blossom – were on display as he posted the highest score of the match, an undefeated 93 from 194 studious balls. David Warner, who may now be reunited with Bancroft as openers, made the only other half century, while Marnus Labuschagne’s 41 on the first day was also noteworthy.

Thanks to Bancroft, the chase was negotiated effectively, as Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Jon Holland were unable to force their way through, and the Test captain Tim Paine was at the crease to help knock off the last 22 runs required. Pat Cummins, having bowled so well on the first two days, was spelled from the attack ahead of the first Test against England in Birmingham next week.

Mitchell Marsh also made a useful partner for Bancroft in a stand worth 54, with scores of 29 and 23 plus 5 for 34 amounting to a significant allround contribution. Bancroft, Labuschagne, Marsh James Pattinson (4 for 35 from 23 overs for the match) and Peter Siddle (5 for 45 from 24) were the fringe players to acquit themselves best in this fixture, providing the selectors Trevor Hohns and Justin Langer with the final pieces of information for their squad deliberations.

At the same time, Kurtis Patterson, Joe Burns, Matthew Wade and Pete Handscomb would have been disappointed not to make their mark in what were admittedly very difficult climes for batsmen. Any umpire marking the surface were it a formal first-class fixture would have been hard-pressed to give the pitch a passing grade. Low scores for Steven Smith and Travis Head compounded the sense that Australia’s batsmen will be undercooked for Edgbaston next week.

Even so, the match figures returned by Starc (1 for 79 from 22 overs) and Hazlewood (2 for 56 from 24) will cause further contemplation by Hohns and Langer as to the best balance of the Australian bowling attack for Edgbaston. Starc, who was taken for a precautionary knee scan on Wednesday, bowled with high pace at times, but was blunted consistently by Bancroft, only taking his first wicket of the game when it was very near the finish.

Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1195724.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

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