Handscomb on board, Archer unlikely to re-join Cane Train
Hobart confirm the signing of Peter Handscomb from Melbourne Stars, who could be used as an opening batsman this BBL season
9 September 2020, 05:00 PM AEST
Hobart have confirmed the signing of Peter Handscomb for the upcoming KFC BBL season, but the Hurricanes have not spoken to England star Jofra Archer about a return this summer.
As reported by cricket.com.au last week, Handscomb has joined the Hurricanes after nine seasons at the Melbourne Stars, with the club confirming a two-year deal on Wednesday.
The right-hander effectively fills a gap in the middle order left by the retirement of George Bailey, while South African David Miller is also not expected to return this season.
Head coach Adam Griffith wouldn't be drawn on which overseas players will be joining Handscomb at the Canes this summer, but he confirmed the club has not held discussions with Archer, who enjoyed two highly successful seasons with Hobart in BBL|07 and BBL|08.
While the international and BBL schedules remains uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic, England are reportedly set to tour Sri Lanka and India for Tests during the Australian summer.
That would limit BBL opportunities for Test players like Archer, although ESPNCricinfo reported this week that white-ball stars Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy could be on their way to the BBL.
England T20 batsman Dawid Malan also revealed this week that he's held discussions with a BBL club and while cricket.com.au believes that club is the Hurricanes, Griffith did not confirm that on Wednesday.
"I won't confirm anything on our overseas players at the moment, it's still all up in the air for us," Griffith said from Dubai, where he's working with the Royal Challengers Bangalore as a bowling coach in the IPL.
"All options are on the table for us and hopefully we'll make some signings in the next few days or few weeks.
"(Archer) is not on contract with us and we haven't discussed anything with Jofra's management. We understand England are going to be playing a lot of cricket, at this stage, through that period with international tours on.
"We haven't spoken to Jofra at all and haven't really discussed him in our list management. If he was to become available, that would change. But at this stage we're focusing on other areas."
Having dropped off contract with the Stars, Handscomb also attracted interest from the Sydney Thunder before deciding to join Hobart, with his long-time Victorian teammates Scott Boland and Matthew Wade playing a key role in his move south.
The 29-year-old says he wasn't offered a new deal by the Stars this year, but added he holds no bitterness towards the Melbourne franchise as they look to relieve some salary cap pressure, with the likes of Marcus Stoinis, Ben Dunk, Adam Zampa and Nic Maddinson all on multi-year deals.
"They've got an amazing group of players and it gets to a point where it becomes hard to fit everyone in and under the salary cap," Handscomb said.
"I've got absolutely no hard feelings towards the Stars, I absolutely love everyone there. That's just the way it goes and sometimes you get the wrong end of it.
"It was a pretty tough decision. There was a moment there for a while where I was a bit scared that no one was going to give me an offer. But (later on) ... I managed to talk to a few other clubs as well.
"It probably came down to the opportunity to bat higher in the order and give myself the best chance to showcase what I can do in T20 cricket and not just be pigeon-holed into that middle-order role."
Handscomb is expected to bat around the No.4 position in a full-strength Hurricanes side, but Griffith confirmed the recruit could be required to open the batting if Wade and D'Arcy Short are unavailable during the season on international duty.
"I think every batter in T20 cricket wants to open the batting, so it'd be silly of me to say I wouldn't jump at that opportunity," Handscomb said.
"But I'm hoping it'll be top four and I can control those middle overs. But if that opening position is there depending on what's happening with Wadey, I'd be pretty keen to do that as well."
Despite media reports that a third international player may be allowed in each side this season, and more money could be available to attract big-name foreign talent, Griffith said the club's list management strategy has been built assuming only two foreign stars are permitted in their side at the one time.
And having previously unearthed Archer and Afghan spinner Qais Ahmad, he's confident the club could track down another unknown international at short notice if the limit is increased.
"We've brought in players in the past who were unknowns who turned themselves into very good players," he said.
"We'd like to think if there was a third overseas (allowed) and we didn't have the ability to get a big-name player because there wasn't room in the salary cap, we could potentially get a younger player or an inexperienced player who could become a very good BBL player and an international cricketer."
Griffith said 17 of the 18 spots on the club's list have been filled, with more announcements expected in the coming weeks.