Cameron Bancroft insists a specialist opener would be best placed to take over from the retiring David Warner, believing experience at the top is crucial in the difficult role.
Australia have named an unchanged 13-man squad for this week’s third Test against Pakistan at the SCG, but crunch time is coming in the quest to replace Warner as he bids farewell to the Test arena.
Bancroft remains one of the leading contenders, with selectors set to make a decision ahead of the Adelaide Test against West Indies on January 17.
Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw can also make a fair claim for the job, but coach Andrew McDonald has refused to rule out going with a non-specialist opener instead.
McDonald on Saturday left the door ajar for Cameron Green to replace Warner, while another batter could theoretically shift to the top to accommodate Green’s return.
But when asked whether it would be an easier job for a specialist opener, Bancroft was adamant that was the case.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he told AAP.
“I’ve opened the batting in Shield cricket for over 10 years. It’s not an easy place to bat.
“It comes with challenges, and my whole career I’ve problem-solved trying to find ways to flourish in those sort of circumstances.
“Some players have switched and gone and opened the batting and done really well. But not everyone puts their hand up to go and open the batting.
“I feel like it probably is a specialist position and it’s certainly a really challenging one. But a very rewarding one as well.”
Bancroft’s comments come after Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer and Mike Hussey each made similar arguments this week.
If Australia do go with a specialist opener, Bancroft has made the strongest case of any contender in recent years.
He was the leading run-scorer in last summer’s Sheffield Shield with 945 runs at an average of 59.06, and again tops this season’s charts with 512 at 56.88.
Harris and Renshaw have both been part of Australian squads in that time, while Bancroft has not featured since being dropped during a poor 2019 Ashes.
“I’ve had some conversations (with selectors) over the last 12 months or so and asked some questions about what I can do to improve,” Bancroft said.
“I’m always looking to improve and get better. I wanted that feedback from them.
“But I guess it always comes down to scoring runs, so I’ve just tried to go out and do the best I can no matter what format of the game that I’ve been playing.”
Bancroft is also hopeful runs in the BBL will help his cause, with the Sydney Thunder to play games against Hobart and Perth before the Adelaide Test.
The opener is the competition’s second leading run-scorer, with 181 from his opening five games.
“Runs are runs,” Bancroft said.
“There’s no red-ball cricket, obviously. So coming out and playing in the Big Bash is the format of the game that I can play in right now.
“Selectors have always talked about players scoring runs and things like that, and that runs count. And I’d agree with that.
“Anyone that’s in a position to go to the next level, you want them to be scoring runs. I’ve just tried to tried to do that no matter what format of the game.
“Hopefully that puts me in a position to be selected.”