Bancroft's last lifeline hangs by a thread
BANNED opener Cameron Bancroft's final opportunity to play first class cricket this year is hanging by a thread, according to a report.
The 25-year-old, who was busted by South African television cameras as he tried to hide sandpaper down his pants during the Third Test, has been hit with a nine-month ban by Cricket Australia following integrity unit chief Iain Roy's investigation into the ball-tampering scandal.
The suspension rules Bancroft out of playing for Australia or in Australian first-class cricket until December. The exact date of his return has not been officially released.
The Indian Premier League followed CA's lead and has banned Steve Smith and David Warner from the 2018 IPL - forcing the duo to surrender their $2.4 million deals.
England's first-class county competition is yet to make a decision on whether it will allow the trio to play this year.
Bancroft remains contracted with Somerset, but the county side is reportedly under pressure to follow Cricket Australia's lead and rule him out of the 2018 County Championship.
The Telegraph in London reports Somerset is waiting on guidance from the England and Wales Cricket Board as to whether it will disregard the deal Bancroft signed with Somerset in December during the 2017-18 Ashes series.
The report claims the county team signed Bancroft following a recommendation from Western Australia coach Justin Langer.
It also claims club officials will speak to Somerset players to assess if the playing group even wants Bancroft in their dressing room. The season begins on April 13.
"Bancroft has signed a contract with Somerset and their could be legal ramifications if the county pull out," The Telegraph reported.
"They will be worried about being sued for compensation and were in talks with their lawyers last night.
"Somerset will also canvas their players to see if they want to play with Bancroft, although there is a lot of sympathy for him among fellow professionals who believe he has been harshly treated, with ball tampering seen as a relatively minor offence within the game."
Somerset director of cricket Andy Hurry said no decision has been made on Bancroft's future.
"The chief executive, captain, head coach and myself have met to ensure that we are all updated on the events from the weekend," he said.
"I will be talking to Cricket Australia and Cameron in due course as it is important for us to collate all the relevant information before considering our next steps.
"We appreciate there is a lot of emotion, disappointment and media surrounding the on-field incidents during last Saturday's third Test match in Cape Town.
"It is imperative we follow our appropriate processes that will enable us to make the right decision for us as a club in due course."
It comes as Bancroft's role in the ball-tampering scandal was further explained on Wednesday night through CA's report of findings into the Cape Town fiasco.
It credited Bancroft with trying to conceal evidence and "carrying out instructions to attempt to artificially alter the condition of the ball".
However, he is seen in the eyes of many cricket commentators of simply being guilty of trying to win respect from the senior members of the Aussie dressing room.
Aussie cricket scribe Gideon Haigh told SEN Radio earlier this week, Bancroft's error was being too desperate to establish and cement his position in the Australian Test team.
"Bancroft's position in this - people have tended to excuse Bancroft, 'he's just a kid'. He's not a kid, he's a professional cricketer," Haigh told SEN's Whateley.
"I dare say he's known since he was about 10 that what he was doing was wrong, but he put his hand up, he volunteered to do the dirty work of senior players.
"In order, I regret to say, to endear himself to those players.
"He's a guy who's a very likeable young man, but he's absolutely desperate to play Test cricket and to look good in the eyes of his fellows and perhaps he saw this as a means of professional advancement."
It came as apparel giant Asics on Thursday announced it has terminated its contracts with Bancroft and Warner immediately.
CA's report fingered banned vice-captain Warner as the architect of a plan to cheat, alleging he advised Bancroft how to alter the ball with sandpaper in Cape Town.
The trio has been booked for conduct that is "contrary to the spirit of the game", "unbecoming of a representative or official", "is or could be harmful to the interests of cricket", and/or "did bring the game of cricket into disrepute".
CA has made it abundantly clear who it believes has been most culpable and deceptive in the shameful saga that has triggered nationwide outrage, with fresh waves of anger expected when the public learn players lied about what Bancroft stuffed down his pants.
CA alleges Warner was solely responsible for the "development of a plan to attempt to artificially alter the condition of the ball", instructing "a junior player to carry out a plan", and providing "advice to a junior player regarding how a ball could be artificially altered, including demonstrating how it could be done".
CA also claims Warner failed to "voluntarily report his knowledge of the plan after the match", whereas Smith and Bancroft came clean.
The bombshell came after Warner lost personal sponsor LG and was blacklisted from the Indian Premier League, where he was set to earn $2.4 million captaining Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The hard-hitting opener's relationship with teammates has hit rock bottom in recent days, and CA's fed-up board has told Warner he will never hold another leadership position.
- with AAP