CricViz analyst Ben Jones profiles Cameron Bancroft.
Cameron Bancroft is an organised 25 year-old Western Australia batsman who has been on the fringes of the national setup since a breakthrough domestic season in 2014/15 when he scored 896 runs at an average of 47.15. An impressive tour of India for Australia A earned Bancroft a place in Australia’s squad for the 2015 Test series in Bangladesh that was eventually postponed. In recent months Bancroft has enjoyed a dramatic upturn in form, scoring a double century at the end of the English season for Gloucestershire before scoring 442 runs in six innings in the Sheffield Shield, including two fifties against a New South Wales attack comprising Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon. His good form has seen him supplant the underperforming Matt Renshaw as David Warner’s opening partner.
Drawing comparisons with his WA mentor Justin Langer, Bancroft’s technique is built on a clear plan, which sees him leave 23% of deliveries (global average 16%), playing on the patience of bowlers. When the bad ball inevitably comes, he pounces on the short ball with the cut – averaging 77.50 and the full ball with the drive – averaging 51.90.
Despite generally opening the batting, Bancroft is a strong player of spin – something which first became apparent in the A tour of India in 2015. In first-class cricket Bancroft averages 60.58 against spin and 71.50 against off spin.
However, this strength against slower bowlers seems to mask a dangerous weakness against the most common bowling type in the game. A vast 83% of his dismissals come against right-arm pace bowling at just 31.04 runs per dismissal, making England’s rather samey attack seem ideally balanced to exploit this weakness.
Specifically, England’s pacemen should look to test out a defensive strategy that is focussed on leaving the ball as much as solid defensive shots. Bancroft’s average of 43.43 defensive shots per dismissal against pace is substantially below the global first class average of 55.03 and should encourage England to bowl full and straight, forcing him to defend rather than leave the ball.
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz. @benjones_13