Ban­croft starts to fire as Aussies push

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - CRICKET - BEN HORNE DUR­BAN

CAMERON Ban­croft got the mon­key off his back last night with a much-needed half cen­tury in Dur­ban and will now go into the sec­ond Test with re­newed belief.

Un­der the pump af­ter a run of low scores, Ban­croft re­sponded in strong fash­ion and carved out his first 50 since mak­ing his Test de­but against Eng­land at the Gabba way back in Novem­ber.

Se­lec­tors had thrown their sup­port be­hind Ban­croft at the start of the se­ries and more than any­thing else, the 25year-old may have proved to him­self that he has the game to sur­vive in Test cricket. Known for his in­sa­tiable work ethic, Ban­croft has been will­ing him­self to find a way out of the rut that had en­gulfed him by the back end of the Ashes, and now he has found some light at the end of the tun­nel.

Ban­croft had a big shot at a maiden Test hun­dred, but was stumped by South African spin­ner Ke­shav Ma­haraj for 53 in the over be­fore lunch.

But even at 5-158 dur­ing the sec­ond ses­sion on day three, Aus­tralia were push­ing their lead past the 350-mark and were on the verge of ef­fec­tively driv­ing South Africa out of the con­test.

De­spite Aus­tralia’s sheer dom­i­nance, Us­man Khawa- ja’s strug­gles away from home con­tin­ued. Khawaja departed in soft fash­ion to spin­ner Ke­shav Ma­haraj, who was later mys­ti­fied that he didn’t get Aus­tralian cap­tain Steve Smith out lbw.

Smith was given the ben­e­fit of the doubt by the um­pire and ended up es­cap­ing with um­pire’s call, but he had no such luck a short time later when he fell to part-time spin­ner Dean El­gar for 38.

Ban­croft can now head into the sec­ond Test in Port El­iz­a­beth start­ing later this week not car­ry­ing the same bag­gage that had been weigh­ing him down to start this se­ries. The West Aus­tralian rarely seemed trou­bled at the crease un­til his dis­missal, and helped steady the ship fol­low­ing the back-to-back de­par­tures of David Warner and Khawaja.

For­mer Test player and re­spected com­men­ta­tor Bren­don Ju­lian was crit­i­cal of Khawaja’s meek dis­missal also to Ma­haraj, where the Aus­tralian No.3 at­tempted a re­verse sweep to the spin­ner only to spoon one up off his glove.

Khawaja’s record over­seas has been a source of on­go­ing con­cern for Aus­tralia and he av­er­ages just 26 from 12 Test matches play­ing away from home. In con­trast, Khawaja has a 59 av­er­age on Aus­tralian pitches.

Ju­lian said Khawaja still has it all to prove when the ball turns. He be­lieves Khawaja’s mind­set at the crease is com­pletely thrown off its kil­ter when con­fronted with spin bowl­ing.

“It feels like (he thinks) he’s got to be ag­gres­sive, and at­tack­ing,” Ju­lian said in commentary on Ra­dio SEN. “It just looks all over for him when spin comes on. He pan­ics and does not look set­tled. He’s got to find a way to get out there and play pos­i­tively with de­fence.

“It’s a real con­cern as a No.3 bats­man. Sure (Aus­tralia) have got a lead of 260 but for him per­son­ally he’s got to find a way to find more de­ci­sive against spin bowl­ing.”

Aus­tralian opener Cameron Ban­croft on his way to a half-cen­tury. Picture: AFP

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