Cameron Bancroft has made a successful return to Sheffield Shield cricket following his ball-tampering ban, while also hitting back at high-profile critics.
- Bancroft made 73 not out in his Sheffield Shield return for Western Australia after his ball-tampering ban
- He said if people were “triggered” by his Fox Sports interview, “that’s their battle to face”
- Bancroft says he and fellow banned players David Warner and Steve Smith have “stuck by” each other
Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner were all banned from domestic and international cricket as a result of the scandal surrounding the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town last year.
Smith and Warner’s bans expire late next month, while Bancroft’s suspension finished in late December.
Having come back to cricket in the Big Bash for the Perth Scorchers, Bancroft made his return to first-class cricket on Saturday against New South Wales at Bankstown Oval.
The Western Australian opener played the anchor role, carving out 73 runs off 235 balls as the Warriors finished day one on 5-183.
Prior to the game, Bancroft recorded a wide-ranging interview with ABC Grandstand on cricket, life after the ban and defended his first public statements post-Cape Town — the controversial interview with Adam Gilchrist, aired during the Boxing Day Test.
In that December interview, Bancroft had alleged that then vice-captain David Warner had approached him to use sandpaper on the ball in Cape Town.
Former Australian players Ricky Ponting and Michael Slater hit out at Bancroft’s comments in that interview, with Ponting accusing the 26-year-old of throwing Warner “under the bus”.
But speaking ahead of his first class return, Bancroft explained why he wanted to speak out.
“I felt like I had some really important learnings which I really wanted to share with people, which was why I wrote my letter [to myself] and which was why I did that interview with Gilly,” Bancroft said.
“There were some really powerful lessons I learned through my journey that I wanted others to connect and to share with.
“I guess if other people were triggered by that, I guess that’s their battle to face.
“But if I was able to touch people through some parts of my journey, and to help them I guess break through [in] their lives, that was my sole intention for that.”
Bancroft was also criticised for the timing of the interview, which was aired during lunch on Boxing Day when the series with India was still in the balance.
“At the end of the day, my ban actually finished on the 28th of December, [it] was actually in the middle of the game,” Bancroft said.
“So I find it hard a little bit to understand, because I was going to need to speak at some point.
Bancroft denies suggestions of rift with Warner
Asked about his relationship with Warner since the scandal and his tell-all interview, Bancroft played down talk of any rifts.
“Yeah, I’ve spoken to Dave … I think all of us, including Dave, have been really challenged through this period of time,” Bancroft said.
“I know that all three of us have really stuck by each other and looked after each other well.
“You can’t understand the trauma I felt, it was probably very different trauma to how he [Warner] felt, and I can’t possibly understand that.
“I guess moving forward there will be great lessons for all of us, including Dave.
“That’s something we’ve all shared with each other and something I’ve certainly shared with Dave when we’ve communicated throughout this entire journey.”
Bancroft had already come back to competitive cricket via the Big Bash, where he scored two fifties in 11 matches for Perth Scorchers, capped by an unbeaten 87 against the Sydney Sixers.
Asked about the response he received from players and cricket crowds, Bancroft said he had not noticed any negativity.
“Players [were] very good, I think when I was out in the middle I reckon one of the things I’m quite good at is being present to what’s coming at me, and that’s the ball at hand,” he said.
“If there was any angst or anything like that I certainly wasn’t aware of it.
“From a crowd point of view as far as I know I felt like people were really positive.
“At the end of the day it’s not about me, it’s about the game of cricket and hopefully they were able to treat it that way but I felt fine when I was out there.”
Ashes not a priority — yet
Bancroft has not been named for Australia’s limited overs tour of India which kicks off this weekend, and is unlikely to make the World Cup squad — but he will be eligible for Australia’s Ashes tour of England later this year.
“As far as what is in my control is these four Shield games for Western Australia, I’ve committed to playing county cricket with Durham County Cricket Club in the winter as well, so as far as I’m concerned they are the things that I can control and look forward to and put my energy into,” he said.
“I think I love the game far more authentically now.
“It’s the enjoyment of you know, being there with your mates, it’s the enjoyment of the little things like the feeling of the ball hitting the middle of your bat, the feeling the banter you have with your teammates, the feeling of actually helping your mates at training.
“I think those little things about the game, you know at times you get caught up in some unhealthy values that playing at the highest level can sometimes present — at the end of the day it’s a game of cricket, and it’s nice that that’s why I play the game [now].”