T20 at its Best: How missing out helped elevate Bancroft’s T20 game

T20 at its best as, Cameron Bancroft’s time on the bench at the start of BBL|12 helped him prepare for an explosive second half of the season. Cameron Bancroft faced 448 balls in his last Sheffield Shield innings before the Big Bash break, the second most in a first-class performance. He’s faced less than half that(197) in nine innings of KFC BBL|12, but he’s almost doubled the 164 runs he scored in his courageous performance against Queensland at the Gabba.

Most would be surprised by his newfound hitting strength, but Western Australia and Perth Scorchers batting coach Beau Casson feels it has always been there during his 10-year professional career. And he claims that Bancroft’s time on the sidelines at the start of the tournament helped him learn what T20 success looks like, as he was forced to watch the “world-class” Faf du Plessis and fellow import Adam Lyth at work.

Bancroft’s T20 game

BBL How missing out helped elevate Bancroft's T20 game

The 30-year-old has previously been kept out of the defending champs’ lineup by hitters considered more explosive. The former Test opener was given a chance at No.3 against the Renegades on New Year’s Day before going to the top after du Plessis and Lyth left for rival T20 leagues in South Africa and the UAE, respectively. Bancroft has subsequently risen to 16th on the competition runs count with 289, hitting at 146.70 – his greatest strike rate by far in his eight BBL seasons – and winning two player-of-the-match awards.

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“While it was difficult for him not to play, it just allowed him to get a little bit more clarity, and with some healthy conversations with WA and Scorchers staff, he had a real clear idea on what success looks like,” Casson tells cricket.com.au ahead of the Scorchers Qualifier final against the Sixers in Perth on Saturday. “The philosophy of playing T20 has changed significantly. “Like most excellent players, he enjoys hitting and batting for extended periods of time, which is a great talent in and of itself.

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“You’re going to go out (in T20), but how he can affect the game in – it could be 10 balls, it could be 30 balls – that’s been a significant difference in terms of his thinking and how he’s handled the T20 game. “The ability to play the scenario and not just play one way is something we’ve seen year after year, and (he) is getting better and better at enhancing his game in that area.” While there have been flashes of Bancroft’s explosiveness in the past, Casson thinks the right-hander has been “more confident and consistent” in sustaining it this season, despite the ups and downs that come with the game’s shortest format.

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Another significant improvement has been his power throughout his innings after the Powerplay. While his overall dot ball percentage (26.4) and balls per boundary (6.2) are at their lowest points in his Big Bash career, his middle (7-15) and death overs (16-20) strike rates of 155.79 and 252.94 are among their best, according to Opta statistics. He’s worked extremely hard and sweeps both ways, conventional and reverses, and he’s worked hard to be able to clear the pickets on occasion during the game’s middle period “Casson explains.

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“He’s stretched one or two strokes in recent years, but he’s always had a variety of shots in his arsenal… He’s simply become a lot better at recognizing when to press the levers that he needs to push. “It’s been fun to see him impose himself on the situation and force opposing bowlers to adjust their strategies in order to bowl to and control him. “And it isn’t a fast remedy. He’s been gently chipping away at it for a number of years, and he’s now seeing the rewards of his labor.”

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While his Marsh Sheffield Shield success has clearly put him back in contention for a Test comeback, Casson feels it may be the start of a very profitable year in all forms for Bancroft, who made his single T20 international debut against India in January 2016. Bancroft is determined to ensure that this is the case. “I want to be a player who can play in all versions of the game,” he adds. “T20 is an aspect of my game that I’ve always wanted to develop, just like all the other forms; that’s the lovely thing about cricket, the opportunity to play all three formats.”

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Casson went on to say: “The nice thing about our game is that you can’t escape from the stats. “We’ve seen them rewarded if you keep churning them out and punching out big numbers – Usman Khawaja got back in the side, our head coach at WA and the Scorchers Adam Voges played cricket for Australia at a later age, (as did) Chris Rogers, so if you keep doing that, opportunities will present themselves. “I really believe (playing for Australia again) is within his reach.”

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