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AUSTRALIA V INDIA TESTS

Aussies on cusp of 'special' decade

06 May 2017

Louis Cameron


@LouisDBCameron

Louis Cameron


@LouisDBCameron

Narrow defeat in Border-Gavaskar Test series has galvanised belief young Australian side can achieve greatness, says Handscomb

They arrived on Indian shores almost universally tipped to submit meekly to the might of the world's best Test team. Yet Australia departed believing "something pretty special" is within their collective grasp over the next decade, according to batsman Peter Handscomb.

Not having won any of their previous 11 Tests in India and facing an opposition undefeated in their previous 19 Tests, Australia were given next to no chance of upsetting their hosts.

Only months earlier, Steve Smith's team faced major upheaval in the wake of their fifth consecutive Test defeat, culminating in a home series squandered to South Africa.

One of the fresh faces tasked with rebuilding the identity of a shattered side, Handscomb went some way to doing just that with an assured debut performance in Adelaide and then centuries in his second and fourth Tests against Pakistan.

A sterner test of whether he and the rest of the new-look side donning the Baggy Green could cope in the cauldron of Test cricket came in Pune, where Australia stormed to a nation-lifting victory.

Match Wrap: Aussies thrash India in Pune

And although India bounced back to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with wins in Bengaluru and Dharamsala, Handscomb says the fight he and his teammates showed has given Australia new kind of belief.

"It was a pretty amazing experience," the 26-year-old told cricket.com.au from Leeds, where he's a month into an English county stint with Yorkshire.

"There seemed to be a fair bit of doubt, at least in the media, on how the squad would go being so young and quite inexperienced on the subcontinent.

"To win the first Test in emphatic fashion and keep the series alive going into the last Test was great by the squad.

"It meant that we've come away from that series feeling pretty good and knowing that this squad could potentially do something pretty special for the next five years, maybe 10, depending on how we go."

Quick Single: Smith caught up in DRS controversy

In one of the most tense series – both on and off the field – fought out in recent memory, Handscomb found himself at the centre of its biggest flashpoint.

The incident, in which the Victorian advised Smith to seek the counsel of the dressing room in whether to use the Decision Review System after the skipper had been adjudged lbw in the second Test, sent Kohli into a rage and prompted him to all but accuse the visitors of cheating.

Smith caught up in DRS controversy

Both Handscomb and Smith conceded fault for their actions in Bengaluru, the former putting it down to inexperience and the latter "a brainfade", though their remorse failed to diffuse the issue as the two nation's boards issued inflammatory statements backing their respective players' conduct.   

A naturally trusting and engaging character, Handscomb admits the saga has changed him.

Quick Single: Handscomb to get to the Root of Ashes rival

"It's definitely hardened me in terms of media stuff," he said.

"I'd never really been in the spotlight like that in a negative way and I definitely heard about it on Twitter.

"It's meant now that I basically don't read comments on Twitter.

"I still read articles because I understand that it's journalism, but when you've got the average punter telling you what's going on via Twitter, I don't really care too much for it now.

Handscomb, Wade dominate in the field

"We knew going into an Australia-India series, it was always going to be quite heated on and off the field as it has been in previous years.

"Being actually involved in it, I noticed it a lot more. Just things being said in the media, just unnecessary stuff.

"It gets blown out of proportion a little bit and then it just escalates.

"Everything was fine on the field, both teams played it hard but it was always in the right spirit to win the game for your country. I understand when people get fired up because it's all part of it.

"It was just an eye-opener to always make sure what I put on social media or what I'm doing in the media – just always to be careful and understand that things can be taken different ways.

"You just try to be as honest as possible."

The high-point of Handscomb's India campaign came in Ranchi, where he made an unbeaten 72 and teamed up with Shuan Marsh for a match-saving final-day partnership to keep the series level at 1-1 after three gripping Tests.

Handscomb halts India with match-saving vigil

The right-hander nonetheless wasn't pleased with his own returns with the bat, despite finishing as Australia's third-leading run-scorer with 198 runs at 28.

"I was a bit disappointed in the end overall," Handscomb said. "Pretty much in every innings I played, I got a start, got somewhere between 16 and 24 in five or six digs.

"So it was frustrating I wasn't going on with those scores.

"In India you never really feel in because there always seems to be a ball with your name on it.

Quick Single: Handscomb at the ready in England

"I felt as if I could handle it and it showed because I was getting starts. It was disappointing not to go with it more than I did."

Now in enemy territory ahead of next summer's Ashes series, Handscomb is playing alongside the likes of England's new Test captain Joe Root at Yorkshire.

Handscomb stars for Vikings in Roses win

And he revealed Australia's honourable 1-2 series defeat to India, which came months after England went down defeated 0-4 by the same opposition, hadn't gone unnoticed in the Old Dart. 

"Even just talking to some of the England lads over here in the last couple of weeks, they were impressed with what we've done," Handscomb said.

"I think what we've done is gone around the world and shown that India can be beaten on their home soil."

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2017-18 International Fixtures:

Men's Ashes Series


First Test Gabba, November 23-27


Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night)


Third Test Perth TBC, December 14-18


Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30


Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test)


ODI Series v England


First ODI MCG, January 14


Second ODI Gabba, January 19


Third ODI SCG, January 21


Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26


Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28


Prime Minister's XI


PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2


T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series


First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3


Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7


Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10


Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14


Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16


Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18


Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21


About the Writer

@LouisDBCameron

A Victorian fast bowler who has played Shield cricket, Louis joined the cricket.com.au team with assistance from the Australian Cricketers' Association's Internship Program