Three balls into his ODI debut innings, with Australia chasing 264 against Pakistan in Perth, Peter Handscomb wafted at a fuller delivery from Junaid Khan in search of his first runs. He was caught at slip and began walking off until he heard the crowd cheering, and saw the replay of the bowler over-stepping on the big screen. Four overs later, off Junaid’s bowling again, a chance to point was put down with Handscomb on 10.
The reprieves he got on his way to an important 82 in Australia’s win prompted him to joke about trying his luck elsewhere.
“Yeah, 100%,” Handscomb said, when asked if this was the luckiest innings he played. “I think I need to buy a lottery ticket tonight and go from there.”
In his debut Test in Adelaide, Handscomb narrowly missed edging a delivery from Vernon Philander before he had made a run, and went on to score 54. He then went on to make a fifty-plus score in each of his next three Tests, equaling an Australian record set by Herbie Collins in 1920-21.
Handscomb was picked as Chris Lynn’s replacement on the back of those Test runs – “a good reward for a good summer,” according to coach Darren Lehmann – and he made it count, propping up one end of a 183-run partnership with captain Steven Smith to give Australia a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. Handscomb stated how important it was for him to capitalize on the chances he had, given the conditions around his selection.
“I’ve been working really hard to get everything going up to this point, so that when I do get the opportunity, I try and grab it with both hands,” he said. “Obviously, today was very lucky: initially being caught off a no-ball and then dropped at backward point, although it showed on the replays that that was a no-ball as well. I missed out on a free hit there, which was a bit disappointing. From there I was able to play my own game and go about it the way I normally do, which was good. Put my head down and bat with Steve and obviously, it’s awesome batting with him.
“There are quality players in the country and I am only in this position because a couple of them got injured. If they had been fitter, I wouldn’t have been here and this opportunity wouldn’t have occurred. So in that sense I have been really lucky as well but Australian cricket has got an amazing talent pool. If I keep getting an opportunity in the middle order in the one-day team then it will be great and I’ll do everything I can to make sure the team wins but if I don’t, I understand because there are quality players out there.”
When asked if he felt he had something to prove given his domestic 50-over record, Handscomb said he was only focused on the role the team needed him to do. The batsman averages 32.75 in List A cricket, with 1212 runs in 52 matches and six fifties. He admitted, however, that he needed to find a way to score off more balls to keep up with the demands of the format.
“I felt good throughout the entire summer and I knew that if I just came out today and tried to play the way the team wanted me to play, then that’s what I would do. And I wasn’t too worried about what had happened in previous years,” he said. “I understand my one-day record in domestic cricket isn’t great but to come out here and do everything the team needs was my only job today and it was great to be able to do it.
“I guess I need to be able to find a way to score off more balls. In the longer format, you can let a lot go, you can wait until the ball is in your zone to hit whereas here you need to start fabricating a few shots and making a few things up, which I am working on and obviously trying to score quicker but I have to let my game develop in my own way to let that happen. And I watch guys like Steven Smith and David Warner and Glenn Maxwell who can get out there and score fast so I try and learn from them and see how they go about it.”Agencies