Banton won’t forsake IPL opportunity for shot at England Test team
Tom Banton would welcome a spot in England’s Test side but he is not going to take Michael Vaughan’s advice and reject a plum Indian Premier League gig to boost his chances.
Off the back of a breakthrough season in both domestic white-ball formats, Somerset’s Banton caught the eye in Australia’s Big Bash with a series of highlight-reel strokes as he made three half-centuries in seven innings for Brisbane Heat.
The explosive opener’s early prowess in the Twenty20 format has seen Kolkata Knight Riders snap him up for a little more than £100,000 for this year’s IPL, which is seen as a bargain in some quarters.
Ashes 2005-winning captain Vaughan caused a minor stir last week when he suggested Banton swap the glitz and the glamour of the IPL for the more low-key surroundings of the County Championship, insisting a standout contribution in the early part of the season for Somerset would lead to an opportunity in England’s Test side.
When asked whether he is committed to the IPL, Banton said: “Yes, 100 per cent.
“When I was growing up, IPL was definitely something I thought I’d love to do and play for England and definitely in Test cricket as well. But we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Banton has already made his senior England bow with three T20 appearances in New Zealand last November and he is poised to make his one-day international debut against South Africa in the next couple of weeks.
But he averages 27.14 in 12 first-class matches, with no centuries, while a lean run of form during a spell in grade cricket 12 months ago left him bereft.
He added: “I just think this last year has been a whirlwind.
“I was in Perth last year playing first grade for South Perth and I think I averaged 10 across all cricket. I wasn’t really sure if I was enjoying it that much, which was a bit of a shame.
“I’d open and seem to get out in the first two overs and then not do a lot for about a month or so. But definitely I’d like to play Test cricket. I’ll just take it day by day and see how it goes.”
Despite making a splash Down Under in recent weeks, Banton candidly admitted he was not as confident in the nets as he would like to have been during England’s first practice session in Paarl, where they will play a South Africa Invitation XI on Friday and then South Africa A 24 hours later.
With Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy set to continue their booming opening partnership, Banton is likely to bat in the middle order in the absence of the rested Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.
And the 21-year-old said he intended to seek out Test skipper Joe Root for advice before taking to the field at Boland Park, where England trained in sweltering temperatures well in excess of 30 degrees on Thursday morning.
Banton added: “I think the last few months… I’ve kind of lost, not the basics of cricket, but just there that net session didn’t feel like how I’d have liked it to have done. After this, I’m going to hit with Rooty.
“I just feel I’m not coming forward as much as I’d like to, but I guess there’s always areas you can improve on.
“I just want to keep enjoying my cricket, I love playing it and a bad net session isn’t going to change a career.”
Despite being included in the ODI squad for a three-match series that starts in Cape Town next Tuesday, Banton is a noticeable absentee from the group for the three T20s that follow.
As for whether he thinks he can still claim a place in England’s T20 World Cup squad later this year, he added: “The white-ball team seems so strong at the moment but I’d love to go.
“You’ve just got to keep performing, haven’t you? We’ve got the summer coming up and an IPL so I think some strong performances there are going to help.”