George Bailey has rejected any suggestion Cameron Bancroft’s Test absence is political, telling the opener the ball-tampering scandal is completely in the past.
- George Bailey says he told Cameron Bancroft the 2018 ball-tampering scandal was not behind his non-selection
- Former Test player Tom Moody suggested there was an “agenda” behind his omission
- Australia has instead gone for Cameron Green at four with Steve Smith opening
The Sheffield Shield’s leading run-scorer for the past two seasons, Bancroft was told on Tuesday he had missed out in the race to replace David Warner.
With Steve Smith to open and Cameron Green returning to the side at number four Bancroft then had the added blow of seeing Matt Renshaw picked ahead of him as a back-up batsman and current next in line if Smith or Usman Khawaja retire.
Bancroft’s non-selection is a contentious one on many fronts.
The likes of Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer had called for Australia to go with a specialist opener to replace Warner, a fact selectors do not believe to be crucial.
The man at the centre of sandpaper-gate, Bancroft returned from his nine-month ban to open for Australia in the 2019 Ashes before being dropped after two Tests.
He created headlines again in 2021 when he responded that it was “self-explanatory” when asked if the bowlers were aware the ball was being tampered with at Cape Town in 2018.
Former Test all-rounder Tom Moody has been among those to question the non-selection, and whether there was an “agenda” in the call.
But despite that, chief selector Bailey was adamant there had been no push from the bowlers to not have Bancroft selected.
“Categorically no. And I’ve shared this with Cameron on a number of occasions,” he said.
“It has never at any stage been discussed from the panel’s perspective. It’s purely a cricketing decision.
“There’s not a member of the team that would have an issue with Cam playing. We certainly don’t have an issue with it.
“A lot of people tend to forget the fact that Cam has actually played Test cricket since returning from the ban. It was a long time ago.
“We’ve all moved well past that. I’d be disappointed if that’s people were looking to that as a reason. That’s that’s not the case. Never has been and never will be.”
Bailey said his panel had to look at more than just Sheffield Shield runs when selecting the squad, with Renshaw having impressed for Australia A and Prime Minister’s XI.
The chief selector also insisted the line was not through on Bancroft or long-term back-up batsman Marcus Harris, both aged 31 and four years older than Renshaw.
“You can mount statistically some strong cases for a number of players,” Bailey said.
“Cam is one of those. Marcus Harris, who’s been on a number of tours as spare better.
“Cam’s Sheffield Shield record over the last couple of years has obviously been phenomenal and it’s made this decision really challenging. Line-ball call.
“Ultimately, the decision to get Cam (Green) into the team was around we want our best six batters playing.
“And as it currently stands, the panel sees Matt Renshaw as our next best batsman.”