Long shot Cam must be in frame for Test selection now

Tennis rankings, betting fields and the order players are selected in the AFL draft are taken to be immutable measures. In fact, they are judgments of the moment, and might already be wrong by the time they are made. The same applies to the n Test team. It is presumed that there is at any one time an XI that is better than the rest, if only the selectors can identify it, when in truth that best XI is fluid and probably different every day.

Because of this received wisdom, that the Test team is definitively the best team, that imperishable class will prevail over the vagaries of form, there is always a reluctance to meddle with the standing XI. Harder to get out of than into is the cliche. Callum Ferguson might demur.

Sometimes, selectors will pick horses for courses, or bowlers for roles, but almost never men in their hour. Rather, n history is dotted with cricketers who were made to bide their time when in peak form, until it had passed, and then, too late, were picked anyway. Queensland’s Robbie Kerr was one; you will know others.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune,” says Shakespeare, “omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” But these poor sods did not so much omit as were omitted. That’s team sport for you.

Especially after the sort of ructions that befell the Test team not a year ago, the reluctance to change again becomes fully blown obstinacy. It is understandable. Players and selectors alike have points to prove, and expect time and grace. So it was that Ferguson was swept away in the outgoing tide and got only one Test, but Nic Maddinson was buoyed on the incoming tide and played three.

Sometimes, though, we come to a pass where stands a man whose demand to be picked for is so overwhelming that it makes redundant all other considerations, caveats and deliberations. So once did David Hookes storm his way into the team, for the Centenary Test no less. Cameron Bancroft is that man today.

In three innings for WA in the space of 10 days, Bancroft has made 390 runs for once out. In those three innings, remarkably, WA have made only 38 runs without him at the crease. We know he is willing; he is keeping wickets as well as opening, covering all bases. We know the selectors like him; they picked him for last year’s aborted tour of Bangladesh. Picking him would be thought brave, and yet is not.

For added emphasis, Bancroft made a double century in his game for Gloucestershire, at the end of the English summer. He has made other doubles, and 150 for A in Chennai. He cuts an imposing figure at the crease now. He is in the form of his life, his flood tide. He needs to take it. needs him to take it.

Matt Renshaw, by contrast, cannot get of his own way. In three shield matches, he has made 69 runs. Luck has deserted him. On Tuesday, as Bancroft put the finishing touches to his opus in Perth, Renshaw strangled a legside catch to the wicketkeeper. Balls that he missed last year he is nicking this year. That’s cricket playing its levelling game. Renshaw does not project stoic nonchalance as he did. He is in a slump, and it shows. Bancroft is at a peak, and it shows.

Of course, cricket’s inherent conservatism will resist this change. The selectors will hesitate. They have glaring weaknesses to address at six and seven before getting around to reinforcing a modest strength at the top of the order. Then they will decide that this much change is too much change. “Wait.” It is cricket’s special catchcry.

Omission does not have to mean the end for Renshaw: he is still 21. We know he has patience and an even temperament for his age. But Bancroft’s inclusion just might be his coming of age. iFrameResize({checkOrigin:false},’#ashes-squad-selector-2017′);var frame = document.getElementById(“ashes-squad-selector-2017”);

Comments are closed.