Keep the faith in Cam, urges Smith

Steve Smith wants the n selectors to retain the same team that completed a 4-0 Ashes triumph and have Cameron Bancroft on the plane to South Africa next month despite the opener’s modest maiden Test series.

The selection panel will this month name a touring party for the four-Test series against the world No.2 Proteas that begins on March 1 in Durban.

After a campaign against England in which Smith was the standout but no shortage of others stood up around him, the n team appears a very settled one for its next major assignment.

The only real question mark, at least in terms of the top XI, is whether Bancroft has done enough to be retained as David Warner’s partner at the top of the order. After making a case impossible to ignore with a prolific start to the Sheffield Shield season, the 25-year-old made an unbeaten 82 in the first Test at the Gabba.

However, that would turn out to be the only innings in which he would pass 27, winding up with 179 runs at 25.57 for the summer. Of the hosts’ specialist batsmen, only Bancroft and Peter Handscomb, dropped after the second Test in Adelaide, did not reach three figures at any stage.

n captain Smith, however, would like to see the opener given another opportunity.

“He’s worked hard and he probably hasn’t scored as many runs as he would have liked throughout this series. But he’s a good young player, he’s a great character and he’s got a terrific work ethic,” Smith said.

“The more he plays, he’s going to continue to improve and get better. If the selectors keep the faith – I hope they do – it will only be good for him and good for the group.”

After the selection bombshells that preceded the Ashes there are likely to be few surprises in the squad that will take on South Africa, and it is clear that is the way that Smith would prefer it.

“I would like to keep the guys together,” he said on Monday. “The guys have worked so well together and we have achieved something pretty special. So it would be great to keep the team together, but you never know.”

“Everyone has had a role to play and had some impact on this series. You see the two Marsh boys … Shaun throughout the whole series and Mitch in the last three Test matches … have been magnificent. All of the bowlers have been great. Tim Paine has been exceptional behind the stumps and scoring valuable runs at times as well. Who else am I missing?

“All the guys have had an impact in the series and that’s what has been so special about it. It hasn’t just been one or two guys stepping up and doing the job. You can’t really win an Ashes series when that’s the case so it’s been good that so many different people have stood up at different times to help us win the series.”

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