The Mercurial case of Tom Banton.
Before the post starts i must stress this isn’t an attack at the Ecb nor is it me speaking on Tom Bantons behalf it’s me giving my take on the treatment of one of England's biggest stars.
When Tom Banton announced he wouldn’t be playing in the teal of the Brisbane Heat in the big bash this winter due to burnout from being stuck in bubbles for months on end, it should’ve sent a pang to not only Heat fans but cricket fans all over the world. Yet before we discuss Bantons future we must discuss his past.
As the Ashes raged on and England won a few games of odi cricket (nothing big happened) a young Somerset white ball prodigy was bursting onto the scene. Tom Banton was unstoppable. Banton and Babar were the best opening pair in the blast, to watch, by a mile. The hundred Banton scored is a truly great knock and I implore you to go give it a watch. He was tonking bowlers all over Taunton, his fast hands and sheer power made him unstoppable and booked him a spot on England's white ball tour to New Zealand. In the meantime he sealed himself a deal with the Brisbane Heat and everything was looking rosey. In New Zealand Dawid Malan struck the 2nd T20i hundred by an Englishman but even on that day it was Bantons 30 odd that encapsulated me.
England won the series and Banton showed glimpses before he went onto the BBL and also secured himself an IPL deal with KKR and his England captain Eoin Morgan, and a deal in the PSL. Banton was also included in the England white ball squad for South Africa.
Whilst rocking the teal of the Heat Banton was electric. Striking at 176 and absolutely tonking it, Banton was having a ball in Brisbane. His first balls of Big Bash cricket read dot dot 6 6. The guy was on fire. A shining light in an otherwise miserable season the Heat Banton was the talk of the town. His stellar knocks, including a stunning 56 off 15 which included 5 6’s in a row reminded everyone who already knew just how good he was and to those who didn’t know, well they won’t forget his name anytime soon.
The white ball tour of South Africa was a strange one. Not only did it cut short Bantons time in the BBL where he was gaining true match experience against good quality attacks and playing consistently, but England didn’t even play him in the t20s and in the odis he batted at 5 with middling returns. The Ecb disrupted Bantons flow and it showed in the PSL where Banton never truly looked like the star we all know he is. Banton, in all honesty should never have travelled to South Africa, of course i am working in hindsight here but even at the time it was strange. Taking one of England's finest young talents and making him carry drinks and bat 5 instead of being the main man for the Brisbane Heat whilst actually playing in his natural position; it makes no sense.
Then, during the PSL, Covid. As per the norm Banton was sent home and much like the rest of us was in isolation for the foreseeable future.
Then the ECB named it’s 55 man squad of which Banton was one. Then he was named in the 24 man squad for the ODIS against Ireland and again had middling returns hitting his maiden international half century but at the same time being haunted by Kurtis Campher. With Jason Roy injured Banton was asked to open in the T20s against Pakistan and he did not disappoint. In one knock Banton reminded everyone just how good this 22 year old is. His sweep shot for 6 off Shadab Khan (the third one may i add) was my shot of the year. The ball was just outside off, Banton shuffled across got down on one knee and then a combination of pure timing, hand speed and raw power launched it a few rows back. He smashed 72 from 42 and honestly it was just great. Then an ok 2nd game and a better 3rd hitting 40 odd from 30 odd; Banton was back on track. Then Australia waltzed into town and Banton was shunted to fit in where needs be. He remained in the bubble and already began citing bubble fatigue (which is completely understandable and I sympathise with Tom from the bottom of my heart).
At the end of the summer he flew out to India in which he endured an underwhelming IPL. KKR were hit and miss in the 2020 edition of the tournament but Banton was miss. Barely playing a game and then being asked to whack it from ball one without having faced a ball in weeks; it was frankly ridiculous. Banton was clearly exhausted and it’s understandable- he’d been locked away for months now not seeing his family, anyone else would feel the same.
Then England announced their squad to South Africa and for some absolutely absurd reason Banton was a reserve. All of a sudden Banton had gone from next in line to tried and tested off the basis of nothing but very very promising returns. Yet he shouldn’t have even gone. Look Eoin Morgan knew that unless Jason Roy or Jos Buttler and then Johnny Bairstow got injured Banton was realistically never going to play in that series and even then Liam Livingstone was more likely to start. So instead of allowing Banton to rest up at home, considering he had already been citing bubble burnout and looked exhausted, England made him carry drinks and live in yet another bubble and add to his mental strain. Now instead of Banton bashing it big (i think that’s why it’s called the Big Bash) he’s sat at home not gaining any match experience. The BBL a year ago was Bantons stomping ground but now it’s a million miles away, and if I'm totally honest from the outside looking in the ECB are in part responsible. Banton is now missing out on true match experience at the top of the order, becoming the best player he can.
So where are we? Well Banton is still one of England's best young talents, i feel i must stress he’s barely 22 this guy has only played two years of full on T20 cricket. Banton has had really good returns in both T20i’s and ODI’s, he has shown everyone how amazing he can be and has also shown an ability to learn. Banton is one for the future and personally I believe he is the one for the future and that the handling of him this winter and the previous winter is quite confusing. Anyway I digress, Banton is superb. We all know this but Tommy Banton is far from the finished article.
What are your thoughts on Banton and the way the ECB have handled him? Let us know on Twitter @therunoutblog1!