Bancroft could be Test bolter: Waugh
Photo Source: AAP
Steve Waugh has nominated Cameron Bancroft as a potential Test debutant and called on national selectors to adopt a pick-and-stick mentality as they consider Australia's XI ahead of a much-anticipated home summer.
Australia's three-Test series against South Africa starts in Perth on November 3, while they face Pakistan in a three-Test bout that begins in Brisbane on December 15.
Recent failures, notably a 5-0 ODI series loss to South Africa and 3-0 Test series defeat in Sri Lanka, mean most Australian pundits are making pessimistic predictions about the upcoming action.
There are set to be at least three changes to the XI that suffered a 163-run loss to Sri Lanka in Australia's most recent Test outing, with left-arm spinner Jon Holland and allrounder Moises Henriques both near-certain omissions.
Test hopefuls will only have one Sheffield Shield match to press their case or prove their fitness before the squad is named on October 28. It means hamstrung batsman Shaun Marsh is also likely to be squeezed out of the incumbent team.
Usman Khawaja, who will return for Queensland in Tuesday's one-day clash with Victoria, is expected to be recalled.
Joe Burns, who like Khawaja enjoyed a breakthrough 2015-16 summer then was dropped in Sri Lanka, is the frontrunner to replace Marsh but Waugh suggested uncapped Bancroft should also be in the mix
"You'd like to see Khawaja come back in. The season he had last year was pretty amazing ... Bancroft will put his hand up for that opening spot," Waugh told AAP ahead of his Captain's Ride charity event.
"Bancroft adds something in the field, which I'm sure Steve Smith is looking for. A bit more energy.
"He's a specialist bat pad who is in the batsman's face all the time and he can add real value with that. Plus he's a good batsman as well."
West Australian Bancroft was set to tour Bangladesh last year and remains on the radar of Rod Marsh's panel.
"He's got to be a good chance," Waugh said.
"Really the rest of it is pretty open. The bowling attacking depends on who's fit."
Spearhead Mitchell Starc remains hopeful of returning from a badly cut leg next Tuesday, when NSW start their Shield campaign.
Starc and Josh Hazlewood are automatic selections, seemingly leaving Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird locked in a battle for the final pace berth.
Former skipper Waugh, who wanted Australia to play with "a bit more purpose and a bit more fight" compared to what happened in Sri Lanka, noted it was crucial selectors select a squad and "stick with those players for the whole summer".
"You don't want to be chopping and changing, so they've got a couple of big decisions to make," he said.
Another former captain Michael Clarke, who launched his autobiography on Monday, also called for patience.
"We always produce great talent. It just takes time for that talent to turn into consistent performance," Clarke said.
"Senior players need to put their hand up and lead from the front."
Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland admitted Smith's side were under the pump to deliver.
"There's always pressure on the Australian cricket team and there's never more pressure on them than when you're playing at home," Sutherland said.
"We're playing against two very strong sides ... the players I know will be up for it."