Peter Handscomb’s method of batting deep in his crease worked for him on debut © Getty Images
There are batsmen who go their entire careers without hitting the winning runs in a Test, so for Peter Handscomb to have had the pleasure in Adelaide made his debut all the more memorable. Even more remarkable was the fact that another debutant – opener Matt Renshaw – was at the other end.
Only once before in Test history had two debutants been at the crease when the winning runs were struck in a Test, and that occurred in 1880 in the fourth Test match ever played. To give some context to the drought, Adelaide was the 2236th Test ever played. Combined with Handscomb’s first-innings 54, it meant his was a particularly unforgettable debut.
“It was a nice little script out there,” Handscomb said on Tuesday. “I was kind of hoping I didn’t have to bat in that second innings, or at least that Matty Renshaw would hit the two runs that were needed and I could just sit on my bat. But it was nice to be out there, and with Matty as well in his first game, it was pretty cool.”
Handscomb, Renshaw and Nic Maddinson all made their debuts in Australia’s win over South Africa, and were among the five changes to a radically overhauled side following the loss of the series in Hobart. And while there were runs for both Handscomb and Renshaw, Maddinson is still waiting for his first scoring shot in a Test, having been bowled by Kagiso Rabada for a 12-ball duck.
“He’s fine, he’s a resilient player who knows his own game and he’s just a great bloke,” Handscomb said. “If you get a good ball you’re happy to go out to it – bowlers are allowed to bowl good balls. He’s fine. He’s still feeling good, and if he gets another opportunity I daresay he’ll come out and whack them.”
Handscomb was speaking at the MCG, where his Victoria team-mates were moving towards a five-wicket Sheffield Shield victory over South Australia on the final day. And while Australia’s ODI players now squeeze a three-match Chappell-Hadlee campaign into their gap between Test series, Handscomb is expected to play for Victoria in next week’s Shield game against Tasmania in Hobart.
That red-ball game will be his final preparation for the first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba, a day-night pink-ball affair starting on December 15. And while Handscomb entered his Test debut with a strong record at Adelaide Oval – he had 479 first-class runs there at 68.42 – his figures at the Gabba are less impressive. In five first-class games there, he has 189 runs at 21.00.
“I’ve never batted at the Gabba with the pink ball under lights,” he said. “It will be a whole new feeling. We’ll just have to wait and see, I think.”
Handscomb’s unusual method of batting extremely deep in his crease worked to good effect for him at Adelaide, where he was able to play the ball late and was particularly strong when cutting. His deep stance also appeared to upset the lengths of the South African bowlers, and he said it was a method that he had developed in the past couple of seasons.
“Batting deep in the crease came because I like to play off the back foot as much as I can, so the deeper I am the more chance the ball is going to be at a shorter length,” he said. “But also, mate, bowlers are fast. These guys can bowl some good clicks.
“The deeper I am, the longer I get to see the ball and react to it off the wicket or react to it in the air. It’s just something that I developed a couple of years ago with [former Victoria coach] Greg Shipperd and since then it’s all gone pretty well.”
Handscomb’s promising start in Test cricket should ensure he gets a decent run in Australia’s middle order, even if the batting line-up is rejigged to accommodate Shaun Marsh, who missed out in Hobart and Adelaide due to injury. There is a strong likelihood that Handscomb will be part of the XI for the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan, which, as for all Victoria players, would be a dream come true.
“The thought has crossed my mind,” he said. “Hopefully I can get there first, get selected, and if I get the opportunity to come out here in front of a Boxing Day crowd, I’ll be pretty stoked. Hopefully it happens. I was just about to put my order in for a few Boxing Day Test tickets, so I might just hold off on that.”
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.