For the first time since his nine-month ball tampering ban ended, Cameron Bancroft raised his bat.
It wasn’t particularly demonstrative, nor did it meet from a particularly strong reaction from the MCG crowd, but it was nevertheless a significant moment.
Perhaps destined to forever be remembered for the way he handled sandpaper in Cape Town, and the questions that followed, the West Australian issued a reminder that he is pretty decent with bat in hand too.
Bancroft posted his first half-century in four games back with the Perth Scorchers, who recorded just their second win from seven starts this Big Bash League season.
Bancroft whacked two sixes, including a beauty from a Dwayne Bravo slower ball, en route to 59 from 42 balls as the Scorchers chased down 147 to beat the Melbourne Stars by six wickets with 14 balls to spare.
Eventually stumped by Seb Gotch off the bowling of left-arm wrist spinner Liam Bowe, Bancroft told Channel Seven that he had worked hard on his technique over the course of his ban.
“You put band-aids over problems with your technique because it’s all about making runs,” Bancroft said.
“I was able to take a step back, really work on firming my top wrist, work on my back foot play a little bit.”
Despite Dwayne Bravo removing Ashton Agar and Hilton Cartwright in consecutive balls, Ashton Turner (42 not out) guided the Scorchers home with important runs at No. 3.
The loss ended a three-match winning streak for the Stars, who were much less star-studded than usual without Australian one-day international players Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb and Adam Zampa.
There was a clear silver lining for the Stars, and it came in the form of a long awaited score from Ben Dunk.
The former Australian Twenty20 representative had been a major disappointment since joining the Stars on a five-year deal in 2017, having twice been the competition’s leading run-scorer.
Dunk was slow to break the shackles on Wednesday night, but consecutive lofted fours down the ground from Agar - who had earlier spent time off the ground with an ankle complaint - released the pressure valve.
Dunk rode his luck too, dropped at fine leg by Usman Qadir on 48, eventually mistiming a slower ball from David Willey to depart for 62 from 47 balls.
It was Dunk’s first half-century in 16 innings as a Star.
But despite some sloppy fielding, Perth did well to restrict the Stars to 6-146 after sending the hosts in.
Captaining the Stars in his first game for the club, Nic Maddinson failed with the bat. The last time Maddinson batted in a match, early last month, he had his arm broken by a rising ball from Jhye Richardson. Yet again a short-pitched delivery proved the former Test batsman’s undoing, after a hard-to-handle Andrew Tye bouncer forced him to lob a catch to Bancroft.
Tye yet again showed why he remains one of Australia’s best Twenty20 bowlers, using his arsenal of variations to finish with 4-18 from four overs.
There was a curious moment during the run chase when veteran Michael Beer warned former club teammate Michael Klinger for backing up too far, threatening to Mankad the Perth opener if he continued to do so.