Tuesday, 4 April 2017

'Handcroft' causes overseas confusion

The Jessop Tavern View can never be accused of not doing its homework. Actually, hold that thought- if we are talking school then the opposite is a more truthful assessment for this half of the double act.

Still, homework is difficult when you don't have the information readily available. So, when we heard that Gloucestershire had secured the return of a recent Australian overseas player for the 2017 season we immediately thought 'brilliant, we've got Handscomb, what a coup'.

Peter Handscomb, for those of you who have forgotten, played 6 championship matches for Gloucestershire in the 2015 season, before captain Klinger arrived. He scored 401 runs at 44, despite not scoring a hundred. He went on to called up to the national squad, before being picked for Australia last year and has now played 8 tests, scoring 2 tons while averaging 54. He still has a dodgy-looking 'sit on the crease' technique, but he looks like he can score runs and bat for long periods, as evidenced in India these past couple of months.

However, on closer examination of the Gloucestershire website, it turns out we've signed Cameron Bancroft, AKA the other young Australian batting talent. The Jessop Tavern View must confess that it took both of us a few guesses to recall his name, despite the fact that young Cam played 5 championship games for us last season. Those of you with long memories will remember that he unfortunately wasn't very good and averaged 21, with just the one 50 in 9 innings.

He had a reasonable 2016-17 season Down Under, with a couple of first class hundreds (albeit at an average of just 28) and was ok in white ball stuff, averaging 44 in 50 over cricket. However, he featured only once during the Scorchers' winning Big Bash campaign. Not massively encouraging, although it must be said that the Scorchers have a strong squad, plus there aren't exactly reams of articles online assessing his Australian domestic season performances. We know, because we've looked and there aren't many. See what we meant about the lack of information out there about random Division 2 county cricketers.

Let's continue in the positive spirit of yesterday's Championship preview and say that there's no reason why he can't go on to become a success like Handscomb. He's only 24 years old, has often been tipped for national recognition and has actually played a solitary T20 international for Australia back in January 2016. He didn't face a ball, but did keep wicket and take a catch in a defeat to India.

The other factor to consider is the appeal (or lack of it) in playing Division 2 cricket for Gloucestershire. It's probably fair to say that Bancroft is about as good an overseas signing as we could have hoped for. He's youngish, has potential and a decent track record, plus he surely has a point to prove after failing to make a success of opening in early season English conditions last year. Opening on green pitches in April and May is not easy, especially for an Australian raised on at the WACA in Perth. Let's cross our fingers that this time around Bancroft adapts to the conditions and proves a good foil for Chris Dent.

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