Somerset have signed Australian opening batsman and wicket keeper Cameron Bancroft for the 2018 season. The club hope the 25 year-old will be available for the start of the 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.
Bancroft is a steady, patient batter capable of crafting big scores. His new boss, Andy Hurry, aka Sarge, sees his value to Somerset, saying: “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.”
So, will this prove to be a good signing for us? I think you have to view this move in two ways; Bancroft knows our part of the world having enjoyed two seasons in the West Country at our neighbours Gloucestershire, for whom he averaged 40.29 the County Championship last season. But over two seasons in Bristol, both of them on a temporary basis, he averaged a fairly ordinary 25.80 in the second tier.
Added to that the vast majority of his 671 runs at Gloucester came in one innings when he struck a superb 206 not out in a drawn match against Kent. Based on this information alone, not that exciting.
But I think we have to look beyond this and at the wider picture. Bancroft is highly rated in his homeland and viewed as a genuine talent. He was actually recommended to Somerset by our former skipper Justin Langer, Bancroft’s coach at Perth Scorchers. He made 82 in his Test debut in the current Ashes series but, it has to be said, has scored lowly since. But he has scored double centuries for Western Australia and, if his selection for the Ashes was a surprise here, it certainly wasn’t in Australia.
His Test debut was long overdue, as he was selected for a two-Test series in Bangladesh in 2015 which was scrapped for security worries. Then Joe Burns moved ahead of him to open with David Warner against New Zealand.
He made the headlines after that first Test with the Jonny Bairstow head-butt controversy.
Bancroft appears keen to succeed at Taunton, saying: “I’m really excited to be joining a county with so much potential. 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. There’s a long history of Australian’s doing well at Taunton, so hopefully I can add my name to that list.”
There will be some criticism from the wider cricketing fraternity for signing Bancroft, as some will view this as another Aussie gaining experience of English conditions ahead of an Ashes series. But that is up to them. Somerset have signed a very good player who will add some much needed steel to the top order.
It is an absolute lottery signing overseas players these days with the club having little control of any players’ movements even though they pay the wages. Remember last season when South Africa enforced Dean Elgar’s return for an award ceremony so he missed an important Championship game?
Andy Hurry and Jason Kerr have done their homework here and we all hope this works out well for Somerset. Whilst his return at Gloucestershire was far from spectacular I think that time should be viewed as a precursor to better things to come. Cameron will enjoy the spirit at Taunton and the new winning culture that Sarge will promote.
I think this is an excellent signing. If Justin Langer rates him then that will do for me. And, being so young, he may enjoy an association with us for many seasons to come.
So welcome to Somerset County Cricket Club Cameron Bancroft.