JLT Sheffield Shield 2017-18
Handscomb primed for SA after timely ton
Victorian's match-winning hundred served the extra purpose of renewing his confidence ahead of testing tour to South Africa
12 February 2018, 09:00 AM AEST
Victorian Peter Handscomb is preparing for a maiden trip to South Africa with the mindset that he will be returning to Australia's XI at some point during the upcoming four-Test series.
Handscomb, who yesterday posted a match-winning 114no for Victoria against South Australia in the Sheffield Shield, is the lone spare batsman on the tour after being dropped for Mitchell Marsh during the summer's Ashes campaign.
Marsh then cemented his spot in the side with his first two Test hundreds in Perth and Sydney, and underlined his value in the just-completed Shield round with four wickets on the opening day of the Warriors clash with NSW in Perth.
Handscomb had hitherto struggled for runs through the summer, having passed 50 just once in seven previous Shield innings, and averaging 19.42 for Melbourne Stars in the KFC Big Bash.
But after his timely hundred in the Shield, the 26-year-old heads to South Africa – a country he has never toured – on Thursday with renewed confidence.
"I'm going over there with the mindset that I'm going to play," Handscomb told RSN Radio's The Breakfast Club. "We've got a practice game a couple of days in (in Benoni, Feb 22-24), which will give us a good understanding of where everyone's at.
"Hopefully I can make my mark there, and if I'm not in the first or second game, hopefully for myself I can get in for game three and four.
"But if I'm not in there and I don't get the opportunity, it's probably a good sign because it means the boys are winning, and first and foremost that's what we're going there to do."
Handscomb debuted in Baggy Green against the Proteas in the 2016-17 summer, making a composed 54 in the first innings before hitting the winning runs alongside fellow debutant Matt Renshaw in what at the time looked a renaissance of sorts for Steve Smith's side.
Both batsmen now find themselves on the outside looking in on a team that has just recaptured the Ashes with a comprehensive four-nil success.
Handscomb was dropped early in his innings against the Redbacks but capitalised on the good fortune to spend the time at the crease he had been craving ahead of what could be a difficult tour for Australia's batsmen, against an impressive Proteas pace attack.
"I had a bit of luck … (but) stuff like that can get you going," Handscomb added. "I've been saying it all summer, that I've been feeling good, I just haven't been able to get that time out in the middle.
"So to put that performance on the board was good for my mindset going into South Africa; I know I can score runs, I know I can spend that time out in the middle.
"It was just nice to be out there, knowing my technique, which for me has been making runs for three years, can hopefully make plenty more runs.
"So it was nice timing.
"Now my focus turns to South Africa. We've had emails from our analysts with all the video footage of their bowlers and their batters, so I'll be having a look at that now and start getting my head around a few plans for them."
Qantas tour of South Africa
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match v SA Invitational XI, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24
First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5
Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3