There seems to be only one thing left for the Australian team to do to put behind it the ghosts of the Capetown sandpaper scandal – bring Cameron Bancroft back into the side and have him open the Ashes batting with David Warner.
The pair were central to the March 2018 scandal that rocked Australian cricket, splitting the team and the nation and now they could line up together at Edgbaston on August 1.
As a junior member of the Australian team, Bancroft found his hard-fought Test cricket career seemingly over before it began and the aftermath was ugly.
He was criticised by former senior players for suggesting he “didn’t know any better” when asked by Warner to interfere with the ball at Newlands.
Now, with Warner and Steve Smith rehabilitated by their feats at the World Cup, Bancroft looks set to get his chance to return to the fold.
His unbeaten match-winning knock of 93 in the Australian intra-squad clash in Southampton has many expecting he’ll also get the chance at redemption.
The opener resumed on 25 on Thursday and carefully pushed his side to a victorious 5-156, with Tim Paine stroking the winning run.
Mitchell Starc proved his injury scare was nothing serious, steaming in and inflicting painful blows to both Bancroft and Paine.
The left-armer, who didn’t bowl on day two and was sent for scans because of a sore knee, had Mitch Marsh out edging for 23 but couldn’t find a way to end Bancroft’s composed 194-ball dig.
Warner was the only other batsman to pass 50 in the low-scoring selection showdown that will decide the final few spots up for grabs in the squad named at 9pm (AEST) on Friday.
Bancroft has been open about his difficult journey since the Capetown debacle and his nine month suspension.
“You learn about who you are, about love, about your purpose and find what brings you joy,” he wrote in an open letter in The West Australian last December.
“It will begin by waking up at the same time each day, going to the gym, meditation and plenty of what you have never been so good at dealing with … “spare time”.
Have faith and embrace uncertainty. This early period brings about its own challenges.
“Running 35km a week and practising yoga each day gives you a release. You won’t realise until later how significant the rolling out of that mat will be for you.”
As for Warner, he was diplomatic when asked about the likelihood of Bancroft returning and who he would prefer to open with.
“It could be about combinations, I’m not too sure. We’ll have to wait and see tomorrow as well,” he told reporters.
“There might be a big innings there.”
Asked specifically about Bancroft, Warner was full of praise.
“He scraps away, he’s very good at that,” Warner said after top-scoring for his team with 58.
“He had good intent, he was moving his feet forward and committing … the guys that actually had that attention to detail and adapt, they’ve done very well.”