England v Australia ODIs - Men's
'Hurt' Handscomb not giving up on World Cup
After finding out via Instagram he was not considered among the top 26 limited-overs cricketers in the country, Victorian has one eye on 2023
21 July 2020, 05:54 PM AEST
Just 12 months after he batted at No.4 in the most important game of Australia's World Cup campaign, Peter Handscomb admits he was stung to not be considered among the top 26 white-ball cricketers in the country.
Handscomb learnt of the snub last week via an Instagram post after Australia selected a preliminary group of players for the proposed limited-overs tour of England in September.
His omission was a surprise, despite his absence from Australia's two preceding ODI series, with the likes of Travis Head, Josh Philippe, Ben McDermott and Usman Khawaja all picked ahead of him.
"I saw a post on Instagram that Australia had named a 26-man squad for the ODIs in England," Handscomb told cricket.com.au. "I was like, 'Oh cool, all right. I guess I'm not in that!' That sucked.
"I was in the 15-man squad to go to India in January. I still thought I was in the top 20 one-day players given what I had done over the last year and a half. To not be in the 26, that really hurt.
"Going from being in the 15 and then having 11 guys essentially jump me – I know they're different roles and different positions – but that hurt a fair bit."
The presence of fellow right-handed middle-order players Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne in Australia's current one-day side stands as a considerable impediment to a recall for Handscomb.
But he says he's been reassured by an "open and honest" discussion with new selector George Bailey, who suggested he's not out of contention for the 2023 World Cup to be played in India.
"I had a really, really good conversation with George," said the 29-year-old, who has returned to pre-season training in Melbourne after a planned county stint with Middlesex fell through due to COVID-19 restrictions.
"I just wanted to get clarification around how I had gone from being in the 15 to not being in the 26.
"To his credit he said I'm competing against guys like Smudge (Smith), Marnus and (wicketkeeper Alex) Carey as well in terms of guys who control the middle order. They're pretty solid at the moment in terms of three, four, five (in the batting order).
"I argued that I had made runs and could push a case there, but I'm going up against some pretty good players in terms of trying to steal their spots.
"I understood that decision, that's fine, but that didn't mean it hurt any less. It was really good to have that conversation with George to get that clarity."
Handscomb was labelled "brutally unlucky" by Justin Langer to miss Australia's initial World Cup squad last year after a career-best run of form coincided with the returns of Steve Smith and David Warner from their 12-month bans.
That run had included a maiden century in a record-breaking run chase in Mohali, where the Aussies reeled in 360 to re-establish themselves as one of the world's top 50-over teams following a dismal few years in the format.
An injury crisis during the World Cup saw the Victorian thrown into the deep end for their semi-final against eventual champions England, coming from outside the squad to bat at second drop.
He was bowled by Chris Woakes for 4, in a familiar dismissal for those who had watched his struggles in the Test side the previous summer, and he has not played international cricket since.
Considered one of the country's better players of spin, Handscomb had earnt praise from ODI captain Aaron Finch for making improvements to how he starts his innings and against fast bowlers in general.
Now he hopes the big-picture lessons of last year's World Cup, which begun with suggestions a team may score 500 in an innings but finished with a final in which both teams scored fewer than half that, illustrates his value.
"I would like to think with the World Cup in India in 2023 that I am at least on their radar," said Handscomb. "I'd consider myself a good player of spin and being able to control those middle overs.
"George did mention that (World Cup) in our conversation, that it is hopefully something I can aspire to. With that being three years away, there's still a lot of cricket to be played and water to go under the bridge.
"T20 cricket has taught us that we can go at 10, 11, 12 an over for 10 overs and not lose that many wickets. It is an impressive thought to potentially make 500 in a one-day game but in saying that ... I believe you still need those guys in the middle to control it, to rotate the strike.
"It might be boring cricket, but if you need to go four or five an over for a bit in a tough period, then you need those guys as well."