‘Pretty happy’: Lehmann’s encouraging words for Bancroft

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Selector and coach Darren Lehmann has given Cameron Bancroft a ringing endorsement, in a strong indication the out-of-form opening batsman will be retained for the tour of South Africa.

Lehmann has also given his pacemen Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood glowing praise, saying they had the potential to outstrip Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle.

After nailing a series of line-ball decisions for the successful Ashes campaign, selectors will in the next fortnight finalise a squad for the four Tests against the Proteas.

Arguably the biggest call they will have to make is whether Bancroft keeps his place after his form tailed off against England.

The 25-year-old passed 50 only once from eight innings for a series average of 25.57 and with the Sheffield Shield in hiatus for the Big Bash League he will not have another chance to push forward his case at first-class level.

Questions were raised about the opener’s technique after he was bowled through the gate for a duck in Sydney.

But he received strong support from captain Steve Smith after the game and, more importantly, was given an encouraging report card from Lehmann.

Lehmann is pleased with how Bancroft combined with David Warner at the top of the order. The pair posted two century stands though South Africa’s high-class pace attack is expected to provide a sterner examination.

“He would like bigger scores as you always would as a batsman, but some of our starts have been exceptional, especially early on in the series,” Lehmann said.

“Apart from Adelaide, we got starts in most games, so that’s the pleasing thing, barring this one, but we still ended up with 600.

“For me, you’ve got a young guy there learning his craft, he’s got a great work ethic, so for me moving forward, end of the day it’ll come down to selectors but he’s a good young kid, works hard, we’re pretty happy with him.”

As celebrated into Monday night, the Proteas, led by swing king Vernon Philander, dismantled India’s high-class line-up with a masterful display of pace bowling.

Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn, if fit, are expected to provide a much stiffer test than England did on the flat wickets in the Ashes.

“They’ve got some quality bowlers South Africa, no doubt about that. They’ll swing it around,” Lehmann said.

“It’s been quite dry there so it’ll be interesting to see what sort of wickets we get there, only time will tell. Preparation is the key for whatever series. You’ve got to get there as early as we can.”

Four years ago, Johnson and Harris spearheaded ‘s success in South Africa. This time pace is again shaping as the team’s weapon with much resting on the form of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins.

“Harris, Siddle, Johnson and [Nathan] Lyon were pretty good four years ago, but these guys are younger, they’ve got the appetite to be great,” Lehmann said.

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