Peter Handscomb admits he was “frustrated” to have been dropped from a winning Test side but has declared his batting technique is in fine fiddle.
There have been few successes for England this summer in terms of handling ‘s batsmen but the axing of Handscomb after the Adelaide Test in favour of Mitch March was, in part, attributable to the tourists’ attack.
Marsh is an all-rounder who can help to provide rest for ‘s front-line quicks while also striking with his own medium-fast deliveries – a facet of the game Handscomb cannot match. But the Victorian opened the door for the selectors to make a change by failing to cash in during ‘s victories in Brisbane and under lights in Adelaide.
Scores of 14, 36 and 12, including a pair of lbw dismissals to James Anderson and Stuart Broad, sparked concerns that the tourists had worked out how to dismantle his unorthodox technique. Handscomb likes to stand deep in his crease, meaning he is susceptible to deliveries spearing into his pads.
However, with 805 runs at 47.35 with two centuries in 12 Tests since his debut last summer, Handscomb’s technique has stood up well overall and he believes no change is required.
“Nothing to work on – I’m quite confident in my batting at the moment,” he said on Friday.
“Up in Brisbane, I was seeing them well and, unfortunately, just missed a ball on the stumps and, then in Adelaide, I was batting in two difficult periods both at night, and the ball was doing plenty there. So I’m not too worried about how my technique’s going or anything like that but, in terms of the selectors’ decision, it was purely because Mitch can bowl a few overs, and he did and he did it well.”
Handscomb, retained in the squad, said his conversations with the selectors after Adelaide had been “pretty honest stuff”.
“I can’t bowl, Mitch can bowl and the Perth wicket, it showed there were long fielding innings and Mitch was needed to bowl, so that’s understandable and I was frustrated to be left out but that’s part of it and we won the Test and won the Ashes so there’s no issues there,” he said.
“You can understand it, it’s part of the game, but, yeah, it sucks having to sit on the sidelines. But still awesome to be part of the squad and moving into the Boxing Day Test is going to be good fun.”
Handscomb said because his technique was unorthodox his form could look worse than it really was when he played and missed. What is clear, though, is that after a year in the game, rivals will now be more aware of any weaknesses, and the challenge for the 26-year-old will be to adjust.
Skipper Steve Smith also has a home-spun technique, one that has sparked debate over whether he is ‘s best batsman since Sir Donald Bradman. Smith has been almost untouchable this summer, thumping 426 runs at 142.
“It’s funny that. I was doing exactly the same thing last year but I was making runs, so my technique was OK then,” Handscomb said.
“This year I’m doing the same thing but haven’t made the runs so all of a sudden my technique’s not good enough. It’s just funny how that can happen. Steve’s technique is not something you teach but it works for him, so I’m not worried about how my technique’s going, I just need to keep backing it in and I’m pretty confident I’ll make runs if selected.”
Marsh’s breakthrough century in Perth is likely to mean he retains the No.6 spot for the final two Tests and through the four-Test campaign in South Africa from March.
‘s ideal attack comprises an all-rounder so Handscomb may now have to wait for a top-five batsman to falter.
His expected absence on Boxing Day will mean there will be no Victorian in a home Test at the MCG for the first time in a decade. He contributed 54 against Pakistan in his maiden home Test last summer as part of ‘s 8-624 declared.
One option for Handscomb and the selectors was to release him to join the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League but it was felt that could spark problems.
“You need to be there ready to go with your long format, your Test skills ready to go rather than going back and trying to slog the white ball around and, potentially, changing a few things in your game. It’s good to stay around the squad and make sure I’m ready to go if called upon,” Handscomb said.