Durham have signed Cameron Bancroft as their overseas player in all formats for 2019 -a further chance for rehabilitation for the Western Australian batsman after the ball-tampering escapade involving three Australian players.
Bancroft was given a nine-month ban from international, State and Big Bash cricket by Cricket Australia that will expire in late December after he was caught trying to change the condition of the ball with sandpaper during a Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
David Warner and Steve Smith, the other players banned after the Cape Town malarkey, with each of them serving 12-month suspensions, have already secured overseas contracts in Canada and the Caribbean Premier League.
Bancroft’s competitive cricket has been more low-key, restricted to the Northern Territory Strike League. He is also expected to play for the WA Premier League club Willetton before an expected return with the Perth Scorchers.
Bancroft, who admitted to altering the condition of the ball using sandpaper, had signed for Somerset in 2018 but his contract was withdrawn. Alongside the talk of forgiveness, but what is most interesting is the cricketing decision. Bancroft, subject to calls from Cricket Australia for either the World Cup or, more likely, Ashes series, has signed up for the whole season, an increasingly rare event in the English county game.
In part, it is an indication of his desire for a settled period after a highly-fraught experience, although it also represents good positioning. With the World Cup due to take place in England next summer, followed by an Ashes Test series, he will hope to force himself into contention with a burst of early-season form. That is a sizeable task. Even before the ball-tampering affair, his Test place was under scrutiny and he has played only one T20I.
His reputation in T20 is not particularly high, but the same is true of Tom Latham, the New Zealand batsman who has stabilised Durham’s top order in the past two seasons. They have reached the quarter-finals of the Vitality Blast under Latham’s captaincy with a game built around lower totals on the more challenging pitches in the north-east.
Durham head coach Jon Lewis, said: “Cameron provides us with a very talented overseas signing who can bulk up our batting line up and help us compete for silverware.
“Tom Latham has done a great job for us over the past two seasons but we anticipate Tom being unavailable due to the World Cup in 2019, therefore we were delighted to be able to bring Cameron in.
“Cameron is a talented top order batsman and a great talent across all formats, he has the appetite and temperament for scoring big runs.”
Bancroft said: “I am grateful for the opportunity and I can’t wait to get over and make an impact with Durham”.
As part of his punishment, Bancroft has been required to undertake 100 hours’ community service. He has volunteered for a Perth charity working with children who have cancer and has undertaken a course in Spanish.