The presence of Cameron Bancroft in Australia’s squad to face Pakistan has generated much debate given his lean season so far. But away from the discussion around him, specifically the presence of an extra batsman in a squad could become a more familiar sight now that concussion substitutes are allowed.
Australia have first-hand experience of the protocols following Marnus Labuschagne’s role of being parachuted into the second Ashes Test at Lord’s after Steven Smith was felled by Jofra Archer. Touring teams will have spare players available at short notice but that would not always have been the case in home Tests.
Since the system was introduced to international cricket in August it was has been used three times. Labuschagne was the first, followed by Jermaine Blackwood replacing Darren Bravo against India and Theunis de Bruyn coming in for Dean Elgar also against India.
While covering for every eventuality may be unrealistic with like-for-like replacements there is likely to be more consideration given to the potential scenarios. Though stopping short of saying it was a deciding factor in having a spare batsman, in this case Bancroft, in the squad, selection chairman Trevor Hohns acknowledged the changing landscape around concussion. “That was a thought when we chose this squad and the larger squad but the main thought was to continue to develop that squad mentality that started in England,” he said.
While unlikely to make the starting XI at the Gabba, Bancroft is aware he could be called on a short notice. “I think that’s probably the way the game has had to evolve a bit. Marnus was a great example during the Ashes and he was able to come in and have a really big impact on that game,” he said. “Concussion is something you don’t want to see for any player, but it’s certainly the unfortunate fact of the game and having concussion subs is now a reality so you be as flexible as you can but you need the resources in your team.”
Although Joe Burns and Travis Head are set to take the two batting vacancies next week, Bancroft said he would prepare with the mindset he would be playing and believed that just being back around the squad would be a beneficial experience.
Having lost his place after two Tests of the Ashes series, Bancroft has returned on the back of just 57 runs in six Sheffield Shield innings followed by the 49 for Australia A against Pakistan in Perth after a last-minute call-up to the squad.
“I haven’t got any big runs or the hundreds I would have liked, I’ve been out in a couple of really strange ways, but I think contrary to a lot of other times in my career I’ve felt like I’ve been playing well, I’ve just been out of runs,” he said. “If I get the opportunity hopefully I can make a big score, if not it’s a great environment to get better and improve so that will be my mindset. It’s good practice to always be ready to go, treat it like no other game.”