Australia opener Cameron Bancroft believes he will reach the standard required of a Test batsman with time and experience, having shown improvement over the course of his first overseas assignment against South Africa in Durban.
After walking down the track to fall cheaply to Vernon Philander on day one, 25-year-old Bancroft spoke at length with his more seasoned opening partner David Warner about their respective approaches to the game, and struck a promising balance between attack and defence in a second-innings half-century.
Bancroft said that just as he had required time and investment to become a player of first-class standard, the same pattern was forming at Test level, and he hoped to be given the chance to see the process through to completion as an Australian batsman.
"In first-class cricket, [Sheffield] Shield cricket, I didn't improve at that level until I played games," Bancroft said. "By accumulating those games I was able to play and get better and I like to think at this [Test] level I am going to do exactly the same. I am a guy who is going to work hard and figure out ways to improve.
"All I want to do is get better and become the best player that Cameron Bancroft can be. If every time I step onto the track or the field I am taking steps forward to do that, I know I am going to have success. So that's certainly something I have faith in and believe in, that's for sure.
"Cricket is one of those games where it can be not very rewarding at the best of times. Certainly in my own game I feel like I've been improving and doing a lot of very good things and sometimes they don't always come out or are necessarily recognised out in the middle. I sit here and I'm bitterly disappointed I didn't go on to make a really big hundred but it's certainly nice to contribute to the team and make some runs. I will certainly take that with a lot of confidence. It's very pleasing."
Part of Bancroft's learning process was to recognise in conversation with Warner that he had perhaps been a touch too intense leading into the Kingsmead Test. "I certainly think leading up to this game I maybe over-prepared a little bit," Bancroft said. "I know going into that first innings, for example, I felt really confident in my game plans, really confident in the way I was hitting the ball, but I was almost ready to go two days before the game. That was a really good learning curve for me.
"The last few days I've kept it pretty simple, pretty relaxed, to be able to go out there and play like I did out there today. I'm not sure if that was a big reason. You could say it was because of the work I put in, but they're parts of my game that I'm always improving and learning about. It's definitely something I have to mindful of, that's for sure. There's no doubt you've got to be able to do the work in order to move forward and improve. So at some stage when you need things to get better, you need to put time and effort in it and that's how you reap the rewards down the track. That's the way I take my cricket and my game."
The conversation with Warner took place after what Bancroft called a period of "grieving" following a dismissal, which gave way to clarity about the way ahead. "I call that process after you've got out grieving, you just digest your dismissal, you digest where you could get better and from there formulate some actions to improve and then move on," he said. "That's the way my mind works and when it is time to look forward and prepare for the next innings, that's what I will focus on.
"I spent a bit of time with him [Warner] and took him away from the group. He's a great fella', he's scored a lot of Test runs and he's a guy that is worth sitting down and listening to about the game. It wasn't just cricket we talked about - it was an array of topics that certainly came up. But particularly regarding the game of cricket, I find him very refreshing to listen to.
"He is very particular in his preparation and things like that and I am as well. I think just being able to go out into the middle and express and play with that confidence and positivity, that's what he is able to do so well. While I feel like that is something that has developed slowly in my game in my whole career, it is something that I continue to get better at as well."
Without a reserve opener on tour, Bancroft will almost certainly get the remainder of this series to keep learning and to try to shore up his place alongside Warner at the top.