Paine lauds Bancroft after match-winning knock in Ashes warm-up

Australia captain Tim Paine was delighted with Cameron Bancroft's performance in an inter-squad Ashes warm-up match on Thursday.

Bancroft scored an unbeaten 93 at the Rose Bowl as the Graeme Hick XII beat the Brad Haddin XII by five wickets.

The opening batsman, who along with Steve Smith and David Warner was suspended following last year's ball-tampering scandal, has not played a Test since March 2018.

Bancroft's knock will have enhanced his chances of making Australia's Ashes squad, which will be announced on Friday, with the first Test of the five-match series beginning on August 1.

And Paine believes Bancroft's form is a huge boost to Australia, who are set to include Smith and Warner in their Test squad for the first time since the incident in South Africa.

"I thought Bangers played unbelievably well - to get [nearly] 100 on that wicket, it's an unbelievable effort," Paine told reporters.

"I think it shows Bangers' toughness. Guys were getting stuck at the crease a lot and that can play on their minds.

"I think it just shows the mental toughness and application he's got to keep on taking ones in the body. The guys think he's got a bit of a screw loose but it seems to make him that bit better. He was superb in that second innings.

"Everyone's excited to have two of our loved team-mates back in, and Bangers makes it three. It also adds to our knowledge of the English conditions, he's played a lot of cricket over here now.

"[Smith and Warner] are some of the best players in the world so we're thrilled from a cricket aspect and thrilled from a team aspect to have those guys back in around our group."

Usman Khawaja missed Australia's Cricket World Cup semi-final defeat to England due to a hamstring injury, but Paine revealed the opener should be fit to feature in the first Test at Edgbaston.

"I think he's 100 per cent. He was running in between the wickets today, not at full intensity," Paine added. 

"Usman has been playing a lot of cricket, he's been over here months now with the World Cup squad so it's not like he hasn't been playing.

"It wasn't ideal that he didn't play in this game but I think he's going to be fully fit and available."

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