Cameron Bancroft: Australia batsman scores 138 on first-class return after ban

Cameron Bancroft
Bancroft played 11 BBL games for the Perth Scorchers this season, averaging 33.11

Australian opening batsman Cameron Bancroft scored an unbeaten 138 on his return to first-class cricket after a nine-month ball-tampering ban.

Bancroft was suspended, along with then Australia captain Steve Smith and David Warner, after the incident during last year's third Test against South Africa.

His ban ended in December and he played in the Big Bash League but this was his red-ball return for Western Australia.

Australia travel to England for five Ashes Tests this summer.

Bancroft helped steer Western Australia to 279 all out against New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield in Sydney.

The 26-year-old opener's innings featured eight fours and three sixes and was a timely knock with the Ashes looming.

Bancroft has played eight Test matches for Australia, scoring 402 runs at an average of 30.92. He made his debut against England in 2017, scoring his Test-best 82 not out in the second innings to help his side to a 10-wicket win.

He received a nine-month ban from international cricket after it was revealed he used sandpaper to damage the ball during last March's third Test against South Africa. He had initially claimed he used tape after the incident was caught on camera.

Smith admitted that Australia's "leadership group" had devised a plan to tamper with the ball, and a Cricket Australia investigation found Warner instructed Bancroft how to carry it out.

Fellow opening batsman Warner, 32, and 29-year-old Smith, who received one-year bans, are both eligible to play again in March.

In an interview during the Boxing Day Test against India in December, Bancroft said it was Warner who asked him to alter the ball in South Africa.

He was criticised for the interview, with former Australia captain and TV pundit Ricky Ponting saying Bancroft had further "damaged (his) brand", while another former Test player Michael Slater said he had "buried" Warner.

But Bancroft, who will play for Durham in the English summer, told Australian broadcast ABC that he and Warner still spoke regularly and had been supporting each other.

"I think all of us, including Dave, have been really challenged through this period of time," he said.

"I know that all three of us have really stuck by each other and looked after each other well. 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."

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