Sheffield Shield 2023-24 – Cameron Bancroft hospitalised after accident as WA mull a replacement for the final

Cameron Bancroft was sent to hospital after a cycling accident left him concussed and ended his Sheffield Shield title dreams, with Western Australia captain Sam Whiteman expressing relief that his opening partner avoided further injuries.
Bancroft, a keen cyclist, fell off his bike and landed on his head on Sunday. He was riding by himself when the incident took place and he’s since been ruled out of the final against Tasmania starting on Thursday at the WACA.

“[I’m] pretty gutted, but nice to hear he’s okay and out of hospital,” Whiteman told reporters on Wednesday. “I think it’s pretty lucky that it wasn’t much worse. He’s got plenty of scratches. Hopefully we’ll see him around the WACA this week, and I know that he’s gutted to miss it, but he’ll get around the team.

“He’s done a lot of heavy lifting this year to get us into the final.”

Bancroft’s loss is a huge blow for WA’s bid for a hat-trick of Shield titles after another impressive season where he is the second-highest run-scorer with 778 at 48.62.
WA’s batting order is built around the reliable opening partnership of Bancroft and Whiteman, who this season became the state’s most prolific first-wicket pair. But Bancroft’s absence means WA will need to rejig their opening combination with D’Arcy Short and Teague Wyllie in contention to come into the XI, while No.3 Jayden Goodwin could be promoted.

The experienced Short has only played one Shield match this season although he did make a gritty 49 batting at No.5 against Queensland on a tough WACA surface earlier this month.

Goodwin, the son of former Zimbabwe Test batter Murray Goodwin, has enjoyed a breakout season and stamped himself as WA’s No.3 with a maiden first-class century against Queensland. He also scored 85 in difficult batting conditions at Bellerive Oval against Tasmania last month.

WA’s hierarchy may be reluctant to move Goodwin, 22, from the No.3 position with Wyllie firming as the likeliest candidate to replace Bancroft at the top of the order.

But Wyllie, 19, has not played in the Shield since early February after struggling this season with an average of 17.80 from six matches. He started the season with a gutsy 94 off 251 deliveries at No.3 against a full-strength Victorian attack but fell away and was unsuccessfully moved down the order.

Wyllie, who played in WA’s two previous title-winning teams, particularly struggled against the seaming ball and was often stuck on the crease. But he’s found form in WA premier cricket with two centuries in his last three innings for Rockingham-Mandurah.

Wyllie opens at club level but has never performed the role in first-class cricket. “He’s been an opener his whole career. It’s where he feels most comfortable,” Whiteman said. “He hasn’t had the best season but I love the way he’s been constantly trying to improve himself.

“We’ve seen some big innings from him over the last few years. So if he gets his opportunity, I’m sure he can step up.”

Tasmania captain Jordan Silk said his team would not underestimate Bancroft’s replacement.

“I’m sure whoever they bring in… they’ve got Shield hundreds and I think [WA] will be confident they can replace him,” Silk said. “[Bancroft’s] obviously one of the batters you talk at length about in team meetings, because he’s such a prolific run scorer and he’s hard to remove.

“You want the best players playing on this stage, so my thoughts go out to him.”

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