No fairytale Big Bash ending for Bancroft
IT was one of the most anticipated returns to a cricket field in recent memory, but there was no fairytale Big Bash ending for Cameron Bancroft.
Playing his first professional match in nine months after his ban for using sandpaper on the ball during the Test series in South Africa expired, Bancroft lasted just three deliveries for Perth during a horrific powerplay against Hobart at UTAS Stadium.
Batting at No. 5, Bancroft strode to the crease in the fourth over after the Hurricanes dismantled the Scorchers top order with three early wickets.
The reception from the Launceston faithful was frosty - perhaps not as hostile as some were expecting - but the 26-year-old started positively enough by getting off the mark immediately when he whipped a full ball on his pads to deep square leg for two.
However, the joy was short lived when emerging Tasmanian star Riley Meredith, who earlier in the over had Ashton Turner chopping a 150km-h thunderbolt back on to his stumps, found the outside edge of Bancroft's bat to gift Matthew Wade a comfortable catch.
Bancroft trudged from the field with the Scorchers in tatters at 4-19, but no doubt still somewhat relieved at having got the first innings following his exile from the game out of the way after the scrutiny which has followed him.
James Faulkner started the rot on the first ball of the clash when he trapped Will Bosisto in front with an inswinger, while Michael Klinger's struggles continued after he sliced a catch to point off spinner Clive Rose.
Perth was 4-32 after six overs, the best bowling powerplay by the Hurricanes in BBL history.
It has been a tumultuous nine months for Bancroft, who was suspended alongside former national captain and vice captain Steve Smith and David Warner (12-month bans) for their involvement in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket.
He returned to competitive action in July in the Northern Territory Strike League, and has scored 478 runs at 47.8 for Western Australian club side Willetton in the lead-in to his BBL|08 debut.
An interview with Channel Seven, which aired at lunch on Boxing Day in the Test between Australia and India, reignited the debate around "sandpaper gate", with Bancroft declaring his was instructed to tamper with the ball by Warner.
Perth finished 8-107, with Hilton Cartwright (29) and Ashton Agar (32) doing their best to rebuild the innings, before Nathan Coulter-Nile chimed in with a late flurry with 20 from 14 balls.
Meredith finished with 3-15, while Faulkner and D'Arcy Short took two wickets each, with the Hurricanes conceding just five boundaries and two sixes in a brilliant bowling effort.
The total was Perth's lowest from 20 completed overs batting first in the BBL, and its fourth lowest ever.