Cameron Bancroft will return to county cricket with Somerset in 2018 as he seeks to build on his new Test status by finally proving his mettle in the English game.
Bancroft makes the switch from Somerset’s West Country neighbours, Gloucestershire, were he has spent two relatively undistinguished seasons considering that he has now won considerable kudos in Australia as part of their Ashes-winning squad.
He also revealed a dry wit in his first media conference when he outlined at length Jonny Bairstow’s “headbutt” greeting in the Avenue bar in Perth shortly after England’s Ashes party had touched down in Australia.
He averaged 40.29 for Gloucestershire in the Championship last season, which sounds solid enough, but remove an admirable unbeaten 206 in a stalemate against Kent and the returns have not been so great: 671 runs over the last two seasons, both of them only temporary assignments, at an average of 25.80.
Such a return illustrates why Bancroft’s selection for Australia’s Ashes XI was met with more scepticism in England than in his native Australia, where his unbeaten 228 for Western Australia against South Australia in Perth last month became an irresistible claim for selection.
Bancroft still has learning to do and that means that Somerset have secured him for the majority of the season, confident that even though he has made a step up to Division One this can be his breakthrough season.
Somerset’s director of cricket Andy Hurry said: “Cameron will be available, subject to permission from Cricket Australia, for the start of the 2018 Specsavers County Championship season, all of the Royal London One-Day Cup fixtures plus the six remaining Championship matches that take place after the T20 Blast group stages. This will provide us with the continuity that we are looking for from an overseas signing.
“He has come very highly recommended and will fit seamlessly into our environment. This will be a key ingredient to us achieving our aspirations of winning silverware. Cameron has the appetite and the temperament for scoring big hundreds. He really values the price of his wicket, is mentally tough and highly driven to succeed.”
Bancroft made his international debut in this winter’s first Ashes Test, making an eye-catching 82 in Australia’s second innings, although his returns have been low since then. If he has as much impact at Somerset as his coach at Western Australia and Perth Scorchers, Justin Langer, who made4 105 Test appearances, then everybody will be more than satisfied.
As a teenager in Attadale, a well-to-do riverside suburb of Perth, Bancroft kept a poster of Langer on his bedroom wall, and is slowly developing a similar reputation as a driven and disciplined opening batsman.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Somerset from Justin Langer and it’s clear that they are a team heading in the right direction,” Bancroft said. “There’s a long history of Australians doing well at Taunton, so hopefully I can add my name to that list.”