Australia coach Justin Langer believes an Ashes return for Cameron Bancroft would be “a great story” but knows it is likely to go down badly with England fans.
Bancroft is in line to open the batting in Thursday’s series opener at Edgbaston, joining Steve Smith and David Warner as Australia prepare to select all three of the players who were banned for their roles in the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal.
Smith and Warner have already experienced plenty of boos and jeers from the stands during the World Cup, but the addition of the man who actively scratched the surface of the ball – and subsequently lied about it – is likely to up the ante again.
“It would be a great story if he comes back into the team. His development after what happened in Cape Town has been extraordinary,” said Langer.
“We know what the reception is going to be. There’s nothing we can do about it. We don’t know (how he will cope) actually, but we’ll find out.
“He’s a good kid and as tough as anyone you could meet. To endure the scrutiny of the past 14 months, especially the first part of it, I think he’s had a pretty good dress rehearsal.”
Langer confirmed that Usman Khawaja had passed his final fitness check following hamstring trouble and will take his place in the XI.
“Usman will definitely be in. He’s fit, ready to go, he’s playing well,” Langer said.
“He’s a seasoned pro for us, he averages 40-odd in Test cricket, his hammy is good, he’s running well, he’s passed all the fitness tests, so he’s ready to go.”
James Pattinson also looks certain to play his first Test since February 2016, lining up alongside Pat Cummins and one of Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle or Josh Hazlewood.
“There’s probably three to be fair – Starcy, Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood – for one spot,” added Langer.