Somerset County Cricket Club has announced that Cameron Bancroft will not be the overseas player for the 2018 campaign. The early order batsman has been centre-stage of the ball tampering row that has cast dark shadows over the game and prompted lengthy bans for himself, his former captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner.
It has been announced today that coach Darren Lehmann will also quit at the end of the current series in South Africa.
In a lengthy statement, which, at first reading looked like Somerset would be sticking with the signing of Bancroft, director of cricket Andy Hurry said: “I have met this morning with the CEO, Club Captain and Head Coach and with the Club’s best interests at the centre of our decision can confirm Cameron Bancroft will not be our overseas player for the 2018 season.
“We are currently undertaking the process to recruit a replacement overseas player that best fits our needs and will share an update in due course.”
He also reminded the readers that Bancroft “is a young man at the centre of all this, he made a poor choice” and “he will learn from this and he will return stronger.”
To be fair to Bancroft both he and his former captain have had the balls to face the press in the past few days, unlike the thoroughly loathsome Warner who declared his regret via the safety of a keyboard.
I have to say I am slightly surprised by the club’s decision, however obvious it may appear to some given that Bancroft is a proven cheat. I did expect them to bring him to the South West regardless. If anyone could add some discipline to the young Aussie then Hurry is the man and he would not have been allowed to perform such acts in a Somerset shirt. And a year in the family atmosphere at Taunton could have energised Bancroft.
And, logistically, finding a proven replacement just 2-3 weeks before the action starts is going to be a major challenge for Somerset.
But I feel the final decision would have been influenced by the player’s current mind set. Continuing to employ Bancroft could have gone either of two ways. On one hand the controversies could have inspired him to score buckets of runs.
But having some of your own supporters resent your presence would have added an incredible burden to most players, especially as Bancroft would have copped for heaps of flak fielding on the boundary at every away ground. You can imagine his reception at the SSE SWALEC and the County Grounds at Bristol and Chelmsford. Certainly not for the fainthearted.
So I can only surmise that both parties felt it was best he stay away.
Let’s hope a quality replacement is announced soon and we can all move on. Especially as the new CEO starts next week and in about a fortnight the matches will start.
Given the last few weeks I can’t wait!