As Australia’s World Cup travails dominate the headlines, jockeying for selection amid an expected Test transition this summer is playing out in the sedate surroundings of the Sheffield Shield.
“I’ve just tried to be consistent with things,” Bancroft told reporters on Friday. “I like to think I’ve improved a lot. I’m slowly getting better as each season goes by.”
It was trademark Bancroft against Victoria. He batted through a tough opening session on day two to thwart a typically miserly Boland and provided composure alongside teenaged Teague Wyllie, who lacked rhythm at the start of his innings.
When he wasn’t stonewalling with conviction, Bancroft nudged the ball around expertly to frustrate Victoria in warm conditions before taking control when the bowlers tired.
There was even a reverse sweep to the boundary off Murphy in a reminder that Bancroft, 30, has also become an accomplished white-ball batter in recent seasons.
His disciplined knock was basically a cut and paste of the indefatigable batting Bancroft mustered last Shield season, where he scored 289 more runs than second-placed South Australia batter Daniel Drew and faced 664 balls more than him.
Despite that, Bancroft missed out on Australia’s Ashes squad. The last of his 10 Tests was during the 2019 series against England.
“Naturally, a little bit disappointed,” Bancroft said about being overlooked for the Ashes. “Going forward the only way is to focus on what I can control and being as consistent as I can.”
“That’s [Test cricket] something I would love to do again,” Bancroft said. “If you’re doing the right things then things can manifest and sort of happen.”
Entering the domestic season, Bancroft was seemingly behind at least Harris and Renshaw in the pecking order despite his prolific Shield record in recent seasons. He featured against New Zealand A in the two-match four-day series although managed just 84 runs in four innings.
“I think I’ve paid my dues,” Bancroft said. “Like all of us, I’ve made mistakes. That was a long time ago, I’ve moved on from that.
“It’s certainly nothing on my mind moving forward. I would be honoured to represent my country again, but right now my focus is on playing for Western Australia.”
His commanding century against Victoria may have only been watched by a smattering of spectators, as the footy-mad city emerges from a post AFL season hangover, but national selector Tony Dodemaide stood out in the terraces – not just figuratively.
“I noticed he had a brand new pair of Asics shoes, so I complimented him…they matched his shirt nicely,” laughed Bancroft, who has a knack for dry humour.
“He’s obviously there observing and watching the game. No doubt he’s seeing how the guys are going throughout the competition.”
With Harris having not played in Perth, and Renshaw and Jewell unable to convert half-centuries in their respective Shield matches, Bancroft claimed the opening points but the race for a coveted Test position has only just begun.
“I feel like no matter how many runs you score, the feeling of being satisfied never seems to be there,” Bancroft said. “Everything else is external. I want to make sure I’m playing well…things will come eventually at some stage.”
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth