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Handscomb can still make the cut for Sydney Test: Paine

By Agencies
December 26, 2018

MELBOURNE: Australia have left the door open for Peter Handscomb to return to the side for the final Test against India after he was dropped in favour of Mitchell Marsh for the Boxing Day Test.

Handscomb made a total of 68 runs across four innings in the first two Tests of the series, but he was in the running for a place in the team before being left out partly because of his strength of batting against spin on what may be a slow MCG pitch. Speaking ahead of the match, Tim Paine , the captain, acknowledged it would be a blow for Handscomb to be dropped midway through the series but suggested there could be a way back for him into the squad for the Sydney Test with some improvements.

“Pete knows there’s things we’d like him to work on and improve and he’s going to be around the group this week and going to Sydney, a place where it normally spins,” Paine said. “I think Pete will come back into the fold pretty quickly because he’s renowned as probably our best player of spin. He’s got things to work on like we all do. We all want to get better every day and I know he’ll be doing everything he can to get back in the side.

“I’m sure Pete would be upset, but you know I think he’s had conversations with the selectors that there’s a few things that they would like him to work on and Pete’s open to that. We know that Pete, at his best, is going to score a lot of Test runs and, not just his batting, he brings a hell of a lot to our side in terms of his fielding, his experience and just the way he generally goes about his cricket.“So we love having him around the group and we’re sure he’ll score a lot more runs for Australia.”

Last summer, Handscomb was replaced by Marsh after two Tests, playing in the Brisbane and Adelaide matches against England before missing the final three Tests. Amid the fallout of the Newlands scandal, he joined the XI for the final Test in Johannesburg but after he failed to make runs for Australia A in India, he was left out of the squad for the two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE in October.

While Handscomb’s batting technique has been widely dissected and analysed, Paine stressed that Marsh’s bowling was a significant factor in the selectors’ decision.

“We did it last year in the Ashes as well and again the majority of this decision has been made around the fact that it’s a long series,” said Paine. “We’ve played a lot of hot days and our bowlers have big workloads so we think Mitch can come in and do a really good job with the bat and, obviously, he’ll be great support for our bowlers.”