Handscomb must make change: Ponting

Australia’s most prolific run-scorer casts his eye over the current No.5 and his troubles with swing and seam bowling

Test great Ricky Ponting says struggling middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb must address his "unusual" technique or continue to be vulnerable against England's potent seam attack.

Handscomb has posted scores 14, 36 and 12 in his first three innings of the Magellan Ashes series but has looked out of sorts to master swing bowler James Anderson and when the ball has moved off the straight.

Live scorecard: Second Ashes Test

The right-hander's technique, which sees him stand deep in his crease and play primarily off the back foot, has been put under the microscope by the plethora of pundits involved in the series and Ponting, arguably the most qualified to pass comment, says a change needs to be made if Handscomb is to flourish in Test match cricket.

"It's very unusual," Ponting told when asked about Handscomb's technique. "I've never seen it before.

"You see a lot of people finish in that position after they've pushed back from their front foot onto their back foot and finish six inches from their stumps, but I've never seen anyone start there.

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"That, in itself, could mean there's some sort of issue going on. I'm not sure what it might be but batting back there he's trying to give himself as much time as he possibly can.

"If he's always done it and that's the technique he wants to stick with that's fine, but when you see him start moving his feet like he did today; one ball (he was) two feet outside off stump, the next ball outside leg stump, that's going to make batting pretty difficult.

"There's going to be a few things there that need to be changed as far as I'm concerned.

"If he keeps moving around like he does and moving back in front of his stumps it just looks like he's making batting more difficult for himself.

"Even the fact that he's not scoring off the front foot, one thing you have to be able to do in Test cricket is score off the front foot, especially in conditions where the ball is moving, the majority of the deliveries are going to be front-foot deliveries.

"Let's hope he can address it quickly and he can get back into some sort of touch before the next Test."

The sight of Handscomb playing and missing repeatedly would have equally frustrated and encouraged England's pace attack, which made the pink ball hoop around under lights at the Adelaide Oval.

In the second Test, the Victorian scratched his way to 36 from 86 balls in the first innings before limping to 12 from 42 deliveries in Australia's second dig.

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Having started his international career in spectacular fashion last summer with centuries in Brisbane and Sydney, Handscomb's prolific form has deserted him this season.

In the lead-up to the Ashes, he scored just 157 runs in six innings for the Bushrangers in the JLT Sheffield Shield and has admitted he hasn't posted the runs he would have liked this year.

But unless something changes, Ponting says England will enjoy seeing the 26-year-old walk out to bat at No.5 for the remainder of the series.

"I think he's been the easiest of our batters to bowl to so far," Ponting said. "Especially if there's some sort of movement.

"If there's any sort of movement in the air or off the seam then I'm sure not just the England bowlers but any bowler would back their chances of getting Handscomb out the way he's playing at the moment.

"He's got a good record at first-class cricket, he's got a good record early in his Test career, so it's all there. Hopefully he can find something that's going to work."

Ponting says some positive reinforcement from skipper Steve Smith and the support staff could help Handscomb find his way out of his form slump before the third Test in Perth.

"He just needs a bit of a pat on the back and encouragement to go away and fix things and let him know that you'll do whatever you can to keep him in the side," Ponting said when asked what he would do if he was in charge.

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"Especially if Australia manage to win here again and go two-nil up, you don't want to be making changes as a captain.

"If I was 'Smithy' (Steve Smith) now I'd be trying to spend as much time with Peter as I could and work with him and try and correct things.

"As a player I'm sure if your captain is giving you that sort of love back and the coaches are all behind you then it's going to make your job that little bit easier."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Magellan Ashes Series

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.

England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.

First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21