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Handscomb at the ready in England

Peter Handscomb reveals why he has plenty of incentive to keep up his limited-overs form during his county stint in Yorkshire

Left out of Australia’s squad for next month’s ICC Champions Trophy, batsman and part-time wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb nevertheless has a strong incentive to keep up his strong limited-overs form during his county stint with Yorkshire.

Handscomb, who stood in as Australia’s gloveman on their most recent one-day international tour in New Zealand, has been placed on standby should a replacement player be required during the two-and-a-half week tournament.

The Victorian made his ODI debut against Pakistan in January as a replacement for the injured Chris Lynn, posting 82 against Pakistan at the WACA in his maiden ODI appearance, but failed to reach double-digits in his ensuing three hits in the format.

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The versatile Handscomb filled in behind the stumps for Australia in January-February’s Chappell-Hadlee Trophy after Matthew Wade was ruled out of the three-match series on the morning of the first game in Auckland.

With Wade returning for the showpiece ODI event and the more explosive Lynn available again, there was no room for Handscomb in the 15-player squad for the tournament, to be held in the United Kingdom.

But with the 26-year-old plying his trade in English domestic cricket for Yorkshire, he could still earn a belated call-up should injury strike.

"(The selectors) did mention just to make sure I’m ready to go in case anything does happen," Handscomb told cricket.com.au this week.

"Being in the country it does make it quite easy to call me up if something does happen.

"I’m still working on my ‘keeping, still doing my drills so I’ll be ready to go if something does happen. Hopefully it doesn’t."

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While he hasn’t been ‘keeping for Yorkshire, Handscomb has nonetheless begun the one-day component of the English domestic season in fine fashion, notching scores of 46, 86 and 47 not out to help the prestigious county go top of the northern group table.

The right-hander earned his maiden national call-up in September 2015 while in the UK on a stint with Gloucestershire, called into Australia’s ODI squad to face England, but would have to wait another year for his first taste of international cricket.

He’s one of a number of Australians set to be playing county cricket while the Champions Trophy is being held, along with the likes of George Bailey (Hampshire) and Nathan Lyon (Worcestershire). Dan Christian (Nottinghamshire) and Andrew Tye (Gloucestershire) are also set to link up with their clubs once the Indian Premier League concludes.

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While naturally disappointed to be left out, Handscomb admitted he had no qualms over his axing from the ODI squad, suggesting he hadn’t made enough of his opportunities.

"Yeah I was disappointed, as you would be when you get dropped from any team," he said.

"But I understand it. I came in for Chris Lynn who got injured at the time. Now he’s fit again, I completely understand you’ve got to bring him back in.

"To be fair, despite my debut, I didn’t really score many runs and I did have some opportunities there, especially in New Zealand.

"If you don’t take your opportunities, especially for Australia, there’s always someone knocking on the door.

"What it does do now is it gives me an opportunity to score runs in one-day forms for Yorkshire.

"Hopefully that puts me in good stead for some future tours."

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Handscomb has taken the gloves for the Bushrangers 14 times before in the Sheffield Shield, and took over from an ill Wade during the SCG Test against Pakistan in January.

But while he remains happy to perform the role in limited-overs cricket, Handscomb restated he wants to be known primarily as a batsman.

"Definitely happy to do it in white ball cricket," Handscomb explained. "If it makes a team stronger or able to bring in another batter or bowler then I’m happy to do it.

"But like I’ve always said, it’s not really my number one job.

"I’ve focused a lot on my batting and I want to make sure batting is what gets me into the team."

Champions Trophy 2017 Guide

Squads: Every Champions Trophy squad named so far

Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.

Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.


Schedule


Warm-up matches


26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval

27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston

28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval

29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston

30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston

30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval


Tournament


1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)

2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)

3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)

4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)

5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)

6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 June – Final, The Oval (D)

19 June – Reserve day (D)

Tickets on sale May 8