Bancroft earns shock call-up as Ashes flops axed
Cameron Bancroft has come from the clouds for the second straight series to join Joe Burns, Travis Head and Michael Neser as borderline picks for the first Test in Brisbane.
In the Australia A selection trial where the top five batsmen struggled, Bancroft came in at No.6 and made a stoic 49, facing more than 100 balls to frustrate Pakistan.
It mirrors his 11th hour elevation into the Ashes squad earlier this year after he made a gritty 90 in diabolical conditions in the final selection trial, where all other batsmen failed.
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Bancroft was only rushed into the Australia A squad last week at the last minute after Nic Maddinson ruled himself out for mental health reasons.
Then on Tuesday night Will Pucovski asked not to be considered for selection due to his own need to focus on his mental wellbeing.
Bancroft hasn't set the world on fire this domestic season and questions have been raised over his technique, but he is a fantastic trialist and selectors believe his toughness is worth investing in.
It was a throwaway line from Justin Langer which proved crucial to Burns winning a recall to Test cricket.
Burns may have failed twice in the Australia A and Pakistan match at the WACA but after being a narrow omission from the Ashes squad he appears to have beaten Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja to be David Warner's likely opening partner for the first Test against Pakistan.
Australia coach Langer said before the Australia A side was announced that not simply recent form would count but the body of evidence of a players overall record.
Bancroft would appear to be in a two-way battle with Travis Head to bat at No.5.
Head would be the favourite but Bancroft was the top scorer for Australia A and presents a right-hand option in the middle-order.
Michael Neser is again close to a Test debut after being named, after impressing selectors on the Ashes tour.
Five pacemen have been picked with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Neser vying for places.
The likely attack for the Gabba would appear to be the old firm of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc.
With four centuries in 16 Tests Burns has an outstanding strike rate of tons-to-Tests and it is believed this has counted in his favour when Australia chose its squad for the Test against Pakistan next Thursday.
Burns will partner David Warner with whom he has always got along well.
Burns has made two half centuries this season but has been batting primarily at the Gabba where conditions have been challenging.
The selectors were also impressed by the way Burns handled his omission from the Ashes squad. Rather than whinge he simply took a holiday to Spain, came home and got on with the job.
AUSTRALIAN SQUAD TO BE ANNOUNCED AT 2PM AEDT
Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Michael Neser.