Controversial Cameron Bancroft has been named as Durham's new captain - just a year after the Australian international was banned for ball-tampering.
Bancroft has been appointed as the club’s new Specsavers County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup captain, following Paul Collingwood’s retirement at the end of the 2018 season.
It is a bold move by Durham, with Bancroft only recently returning to cricket after a nine-month ban for his role in the ball-tampering affair that rocked Australian cricket.
Bancroft was pictured using sandpaper on the ball in the Newlands Test against South Africa last March, and admitted to having been involved in a plot to alter the ball. Aussie captain Steve Smith and David Warner were also suspended for their part in the scandal.
Durham had initially offered Bancroft a role as their overseas player for the new season, but have now given him the extra responsibility despite the 26-year-old not joining the county until after the campaign has started due to an insistence he attends Western Australia’s end-of-season awards dinner.
He will not be available until Durham’s second Specsavers County Championship fixture against Sussex at Emirates Riverside, starting April 11, meaning batsman Alex Lees will captain the side for their Durham University MCCU fixture starting this Tuesday, and the Championship opener away at Derbyshire on April 5.
A Durham CCC statement said: "Bancroft has joined the D’s for the 2019 campaign as the club’s overseas signing and his international and franchise experience has been identified by coach James Franklin and director of cricket Marcus North as perfect credentials to captain the side."
Bancroft has eight Test caps for Australia, having opened the batting against England in 2017 and will be hoping his spell at Durham could see him earn a recall to the Baggy Greens for this summer's Ashes.
Franklin said: “We’re delighted to have Cameron with us for the season and we’re confident he has the attributes to lead this exciting young Durham dressing room.
“He has invaluable experience at the top level and has enjoyed a successful spell in England before, during his time with Gloucestershire.
“He’s proven since returning to first-class cricket over the last few months that he has the mental toughness, skill and attitude to excel at the highest level and I’m sure he will relish the challenge we have at Durham this season.”