Bancroft selection squeeze
Renshaw or allrounder to miss out in first Test team
AUSTRALIAN selectors will today decide what they are most willing to sacrifice for the Ashes: Matt Renshaw, or an allrounder at No.6.
West Australian run machine Cameron Bancroft cannot be denied for the first Test after turning his ton into an unbeaten double century at the WACA Ground.
Now it is up to selectors to work out how to fit him in.
Bancroft is best suited as an opener, where he has amassed 425 runs at an average of 141.66 in 2½ games this season, but that would require axing outof-form Renshaw.
The softer option would be to slot Bancroft in at No.6, but such a move would rob Australia of the preferred luxury of having an allrounder up their sleeve who could take pressure off the precious pace attack.
Incumbent Glenn Maxwell is in the mix — and his performance at the MCG today will be telling — while selector Mark Waugh said this week Marcus Stoinis was the best allrounder in the country.
Stoinis remains an option, as does fellow WA talent Hilton Cartwright.
Bancroft has made himself impossible to leave out after selectors demanded Shield runs from their candidates.
Selectors must now fit the jigsaw pieces around the righthander, 24.
He ground South Australia into the dirt with a superb 228no, which added to a 76no carrying his bat and 86 against a star-studded NSW attack the week before.
Experts rate his defence as good as any batsman in the country, but he is also a runscorer with multiple gears — as he proved in a knock of 22 boundaries and three sixes.
Queensland’s Renshaw was strangled down the legside for one against NSW — continuing a run of outs that has netted 70 runs in six knocks this season, with a best of 19.
It could be argued Renshaw has been unlucky this match, with a dubious caught behind call in the first dig, but issues of technique and confidence are hard to ignore.
Selectors Trevor Hohns, Darren Lehmann, Greg Chappell and Waugh will enter a room this afternoon, and will not emerge until a squad for the first two Tests is chosen.
It is understood Bancroft is not being considered as keeper, with Peter Nevill set to reclaim the gloves despite an underwhelming 17 yesterday for NSW.
Former Test keeper Brad Haddin said the team did not need a keeper who scored regular hundreds, just one who could bat to all situations.
“We had an exception to the rule with ‘Gilly’ (Adam Gilchrist),” Haddin said.
“He’s a once in a generation player and one of the best ever to play the game.
“It’s not so much about the hundreds as about where the keepers get their runs.”