Cameron Bancroft hopes he’s starting to win the Durham fans over after smashing a superb 151 in their Royal London Cup win over Northamptonshire.
The Australian batsman was a controversial choice as Durham’s overseas player this season after his infamous role in ‘sandpapergate’, and an even more controversial choice as captain.
After a slow start to his Durham career, missing the Championship opener against Derbyshire and then failing to fire in his first game against Sussex, which also ended in defeat, the pressure was on the 26-year-old to perform in front of his home fans for the first time.
And he didn’t disappoint, treating the Emirates Riverside faithful to a superb display of batting to propel his side to a 72-run win.
“It was nice,” Bancroft said. “We’ve had a couple of tough games in the Championship.
“Winning always creates a nice feeling in the dressing room. The guys have been working hard so it’s nice to start this tournament really well and personally it was nice to get some runs.
“Hopefully [I’m winning the crowd over]. I’m just going out there to enjoy my cricket and to enjoy playing for Durham.
“Hopefully making some runs and if that’s going to win them over, fantastic. We did some really good things in this game, hopefully we can continue them against Leicestershire on Friday.
“When you’re playing at home you want to have an advantage. It’s quite a big oval so you need to run hard between the wickets and bowl to suit the conditions.
“I think we can make it a fortress for us. We had a lot of guys play their first games for us. A lot of inexperience and they certainly would have learned a lot.”
Bancroft blasted an unbeaten 151 from 130 deliveries, sharing a record-breaking fourth wicket stand with Michael Richardson, who also notched a ton to set Northants a daunting total of 343 to chase.
Jason Holder and Alex Wakely put forward impressive efforts with the bat for the visitors. However, Matt Salisbury (3-51) and Matthew Potts (4-62) held their composure with the ball to guide the north-east over the line to get off the mark in the 50-over format.
Durham’s day did start poorly when Ben Sanderson dismissed Graham Clark and Alex Lees in the second over. Scott Steel, however, hit his maiden one-day fifty with a boundary, his eighth of his innings as the 19-year-old and Bancroft put on 119 before the opener was bowled by Liam Procter for a fine knock of 68.
Bancroft took centre stage, dominating the Northamptonshire bowlers with his power down the ground. He blasted three sixes at the beginning of his partnership with Richardson as they manipulated the field, Bancroft reaching his century in 103 deliveries.
The duo pushed their side on, with Richardson notching his third one-day century in the process. He would fall for 102 in the final over, ending the record-breaking stand at 208 runs. There was still time for Bancroft to reach his 150, crunching a boundary to leg-side boundary as Durham posted an imposing total of 342-5 from their 50 overs.
Holder kept the chase alive, bludgeoning his way over fifty with ease. The West Indies skipper put forward a valiant attempt to guide Northants over the line with his innings. However, he fell for 86 to Liam Trevaskis going for a big strike into the leg side. His dismissal was the beginning of the end for Northants, who lost their final four wickets for just three runs.