No ghosts of 2018 ball-tampering: overlooking Cameron Bancroft ‘purely a cricketing decision’

Australia’s chair of selectors George Bailey has shut down conspiracy talk around Cameron Bancroft being overlooked for the Test side as having anything to do with the 2018 ball-tampering scandal.
Bancroft has played Test cricket since his ban, featuring in two games against England in 2019, but comments he made in a 2021 interview about how the fast bowlers must have known what was going on led to them putting out a joint statement reiterating they had no knowledge of the plans.

“Categorically, no,” Bailey said as to whether there were any lingering issues from that time which impacted his selection. “I’ve shared this with Cameron on a number of occasions. It has never at any stage been discussed from the panel’s perspective. It’s purely a cricketing decision.

“There is not a member of the team that would have an issue with Cam playing, we certainly don’t have an issue with it. I’d be disappointed if people were looking to that as a reason. All I can do is reiterate to you and to Cam that’s not the case; never has been, and never will be.”

Bailey acknowledged that Bancroft had made a strong case through his weight of runs but at the moment they viewed Renshaw as the next best batter in line. He also said that Marcus Harris, who holds a central contract and was the spare batter through the Ashes, could count himself unfortunate.

“Cam’s record over the last couple of years has been phenomenal and it’s made this decision really challenging, a line-ball call,” Bailey said. “He is banging down the door. Think there’s a number of players who are banging down the door and that’s great.

“As excited as Matt Renshaw and Cameron Green are, you know there’s always guys on the other side of the coin who are shattered and who are working their backside off. All those guys know what it’s like to be part of that Test team, all of them are striving to get back thereā€¦and there will be opportunities going forward.

“And there’s no doubt that part of cricket selection is being in the right place at the right time, playing at close to your best at the right time. In that respect I certainly feel for Marcus Harris as well, whose been on a number of tours, in some respects was unlucky to get dropped last time he was playing Test cricket. I imagine it’s hollow for those guys at the moment, but it’s the age old thing of you have to keep doing what you are doing.”

Speaking a few days ago, Bancroft admitted he would be “disappointed” if Australia opted for a non-traditional opener to replace Warner. “Cricket means the world to me and I’ve put my heart and soul into developing my game as an opening batter,” he said.
Renshaw’s call-up puts him as next in line should another vacancy arrive in the top order – and there is a thought he is viewed as Usman Khawaja’s eventual replacement – although Bailey also namechecked Western Australia’s Aaron Hardie and South Australia’s Nathan McSweeney as two players pushing for higher honours, an indication they may be considered for the New Zealand tour in March if an extra batter is taken for the two Tests.

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