Cameron Bancroft admits he has been on an emotional “rollercoaster” since being handed a nine-month ban by Cricket Australia for his role in the ball-tampering scandal.
Bancroft was found guilty of attempting to manipulate the conditions of the ball with yellow sandpaper during the third of four Tests in South Africa in March.
It was an act which led to a widespread condemnation and also saw captain Steve Smith and deputy David Warner receive 12-month suspensions for their respective involvement.
While Bancroft, the most junior member of Australia’s XI in Cape Town, is banned at international and domestic state level, he is preparing to make his comeback in the Northern Territory’s Strike League.
The 25-year-old said in quotes on www.cricket.com.au: “Right now I’m feeling really good. The last couple of months have been a bit of a rollercoaster. You certainly ride the waves of grieving.
“There’s been times where I’ve felt really sad, there’s been times where I’ve felt really angry.
“But overall, I’ve worked really hard on myself, been really busy with a lot of things and right now it’s just another step forward, heading up to Darwin to play some cricket and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The ultimate goal for Bancroft is to once again represent Australia.
He added: “I can’t change what happened in South Africa and that’s something I’m completely accountable for.
“Everything since South Africa I’ve moved towards have been steps closer to one day getting back and playing cricket for Australia again.”
He also revealed he keeps in touch with Smith and Warner.
“I speak to them quite regularly, at least every week,” Bancroft said.
“Whether that’s a phone call or messages, they’re obviously very busy with some things too.
“They’re two really great people and we’ve been looking after each other.
“That’s a value that we really hold closely at the WACA, is this idea of looking after your mates.
“We’ve being going through all of this together and we definitely look out for each other, that’s for sure.”
The tourists suffered a historic 5-0 loss in the ODI series and now face England in a one-off T20 fixture at Edgbaston.
Finch acknowledges collective confidence was dented by the hammering – but he is encouraged by an influx of players with “no baggage” ahead of Wednesday’s game.
“We had a debrief and … we’ve put a bit of that stuff to bed,” Finch said.
“As a T20 team not a lot needs to be said – we have new faces to bring fresh energy, guys that have no baggage. It’s a great opportunity to get out there and strut our stuff in a format we have had success in.”
Five-time World Cup-winners Australia have hit a 34-year low at number six in the ODI rankings – which are topped by England – but in T20s they are second and the hosts fifth.
Finch added: “In the one-day format the confidence was definitely affected. England put us on the back foot from the word go, and we weren’t able to catch up.
“But we’ve had success in this format, from seventh in the world to second – which is a great achievement – and (we’ve) done it with mixed-and-matched teams. We’re getting more settled … I don’t think there will be anything to worry about in this format.”
Finch is Tim Paine’s ODI vice-captain but may be the medium-term tip to take over, especially if his Twenty20 exploits continue to go well.
He discounts the suggestion that this match, and scheduled tri-series coming up against Zimbabwe and world number one Pakistan, may be an audition for the ODI role.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “If the opportunity came up it would be an honour. But it’s not something I have thought about.
“Tim is the captain right now and did a great job throughout the (ODI) series. It was disappointing we didn’t back up his leadership with our performances – we let ourselves slip.”
Last year, Tim Paine was about to quit cricket for good and take up a regular job at equipment manufacturer Kookaburra. He was not considered good enough even for the Tasmanian team and decided it was time to move on.
Then Tasmania got hit by a major crisis which resulted in the sacking of coach Dan Marsh. Paine, who had been out of the Sheffield Shield team for nearly a year, not only made a comeback in February 2017 but was even given a two-year contract.
Then in November, Paine received news he had emerged as the best available wicket-keeping option in Australia after Peter Nevill and Matthew Wade had failed to make an impression. So he was elevated to the role of Test wicket-keeper for the Ashes at home against England after not having played Tests in seven years.
Australia won the Ashes 4-0, with Paine doing admirably with the bat and ball as he scored 192 runs with one fifty from six innings plus 25 catches plus and a stumping.
Then all hell broke loose during the tour of South Africa in the aftermath of the ball-tampering scandal that resulted in bans for Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft. Australia got smashed 3-1 in the series and that heralded a period of considerable pain. Paine got the captaincy.
The ODI series against England was always going to be a tough test and Australia were further hampered by injuries to pace spearheads Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. With five proven match-winners missing, Australia were asked to face the No1 ODI team in their backyard.
That England won 5-0 shouldn’t come as a surprise. Paine is doing whatever he can having just recently revived his professional career. The Australian team is in limbo and waiting for the reinforcements to come in once the pacers regain their fitness and Smith and Warner become available.
Australia will no doubt hand over the leadership to Smith as soon as he is available. That would have been the case even if Paine had done a wonderful job as a leader. However, the fact is Paine is putting in the hard yards when the team is clearly handicapped and lacking in vision or structure.
In reality, this is coach Justin Langer’s team. He is the one who had talked about sledging in the England series and how trash talk is part of their ‘culture’. He is the long-term visionary Australia have picked, not Paine. So if anyone is to be blamed, it’s Langer and not Paine even though in cricket it’s the captain’s fault and not the coach’s.
If you don’t like his leadership, it’s fine because he was anyhow getting ready for a regular nine-to-five life. It’s his country that asked him to drop that idea and save its teams, first Tasmania and then the national side. He is just keeping the seat warm until Smith returns.