Both Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb had expected to watch Australia’s Test series against Pakistan from the stands, but the pair of debutants look to have booked far better tickets to the first two matches of the series.
The duo capped impressive maiden outings in the Baggy Green after seeing Australia over the line in the third Commonwealth Bank Test against South Africa in Adelaide.
Handscomb struck the winning runs with Renshaw down the other end, a scenario neither Queenslander Renshaw nor Victorian Handscomb foresaw earlier this year.
Both players had in fact made plans to watch the upcoming Brisbane and Melbourne Tests, respectively, from the bleachers.
“I bought tickets in June,” Renshaw said of the first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba, where he’s now likely to again face up to the new pink Kookaburra.
“Apparently the Toombul (Cricket Club) boys are (now) trying to auction that ticket off.”
Handscomb too admitted he was not so long ago expecting to be watching the Boxing Day Test as part of a packed MCG crowd.
“I was just about to put my (ticket) order in for the Boxing Day Test so I might just hold off on that,” he said.
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The duo, along with Nic Maddinson and the recalled Matthew Wade and Jackson Bird, were drafted into the national side in the wake of their defeat in Hobart, their fifth consecutive Test defeat.
While Maddinson made a duck in his only hit, Handscomb and Renshaw played important roles in the match to turn around Australia’s fortunes.
After copping a pearler from player-of-the-series Vernon Philander with his first ball in international cricket that beat the outside edge, Handscomb looked assured against the strong Proteas attack.
He struck three consecutive boundaries to bring up a first-innings half-century before hitting the winnings runs alongside Renshaw on the final day.
“It was a nice little script out there,” Handscomb said. “I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t have to bat in that second innings or that Matty would hit the winning runs.
“It was a nice moment to be out there with Matty in his first game as well.
“The intensity was a lot higher than what I’ve ever played before and having a crowd like that for four days straight was pretty intense.
“It was just an awesome feeling being out there.”
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While Renshaw fell for 10 in his first hit in Test cricket, he played a measured hand to see Australia home in the second innings, finishing unbeaten on 34.
While the 20-year-old’s knock wasn’t the most eye-catching with South Africa’s seamers beating his bat on numerous occasions, Australia skipper Steve Smith later praised him for his temperament in his 137-ball stay.
While question marks surround the availability of Shaun Marsh for the Pakistan series, who opened in the summer-opener at the WACA before being ruled out of the next two Tests with a broken finger, both Handscomb and Renshaw are in a good position to retain their spots in the line-up for the first Test against Pakistan on December 15, another day-night affair.
They will have the opportunity to further impress selectors when the next round of Sheffield Shield matches get underway on December 5.
Handscomb said his focus is firmly on Victoria’s clash with Tasmania in Hobart but conceded he has one eye on a dream berth in the Boxing Day Test against a highly-credentialed Pakistan bowling attack.
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“The thought’s crossed my mind,” he said. “Hopefully I can get there first, get selected, but if you got the opportunity to get out here in front a boxing day crowd, I’d be pretty stoked.
“Obviously I’m a little bit nervous going into it but also excited.
“(It’s) not something I’m thinking about just yet. The focus is now to win a game for Victoria.
“Once that game’s over, I’ll focus on the next challenge ahead which will hopefully be Pakistan.
“They’re world class bowlers so hopefully I can formulate a plan against them.”
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