Why gloves are off for Handscomb
THE answer to Australia's Test wicket keeping question is not Peter Handscomb.
One month out from the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba Australia does not have a gloveman locked in. Handscomb's name has been thrown in to the mix after he took the gloves during the recent one-day series in India.
Giving Handscomb the job could allow selectors to throw another bowler in to the Aussie XI and the Victorian has shown himself to be adept behind the stumps.
But Handscomb declared he has no interest in long-form keeping and actually wants to elevate himself up the Test batting order having been a revelation in his 10 Tests at number five, compiling 743 runs, with two hundreds.
And its runs that are on his mind as he begins his first class summer for the Bushrangers in Thursday's Sheffield Shield opener against Queensland, not catches and stumpings.
"I don't particularly want to keep in long-form cricket," Handscomb said on Tuesday.
"I'm happy to go over on tours as a back up. But it's too hard for me to do it, especially because I want to bat in the top five, and the top four. If I've got the gloves on I can't do that."
Handscomb said he would happily shift to number four in the Test line-up if asked, but had narrowed his focus in the coming weeks to building on his biggest year of cricket and being Ashes ready.
Two Test tours, to India and Bangladesh, book-ended a big stint in English county cricket where he got to know the old enemy a lot better.
But it alson gave him a cricket load beyond anything he has experienced before and the 26-year-old hoped that the next three Shield games would bolster his Ashes preparation.
"The county stint in England was awesome, to test myself in those conditions. And it always puts you in good stead coming back after playing in England, or India or Bangladesh," Handscomb said.
"(the Ashes) is something I have grown up always wanting to play in. I'm really looking forward to it. But my job at the moment is to make runs and win games for Victoria. Then when the moment comes to put the baggy green cap back on, I'll focus on that series."
And Handscomb backed his Bushrangers teammate Glenn Maxwell to push his claims for continued Test selection with "big runs" for the Vics.
"Glenn will come out to show he can make runs in long form cricket. We all know he can. He did it over in Ranchi in tough conditions against India. Everyone knows he can do it and it's about him coming out now and showing everyone," Handscomb said.
"I think we are going to look to bat him a bit higher, really give him that opportunity to prove himself. He wants that opportunity, to get out there and Test himself, and take that chance."