Australia v South Africa Tests
Handscomb offers tantalising glimpse
Calm, composed and assured, Peter Handscomb took to Test cricket with a knock that belied his status as a Test debutant
Sam Ferris at the Adelaide Oval
26 November 2016, 12:56 AM AEST
If Peter Handscomb's maiden Test innings was just a glimpse of what he's capable at the highest level, Australia's selectors, teammates and fans should be elated with what they saw on Friday in Adelaide.
Handscomb's raw numbers read as follows: 54 runs, 78 balls, six fours in 111 minutes at the crease.
To put that in perspective, of the 446 Australians to bat in Test cricket, Handscomb's 54 is the joint 50th best score on debut, equal with Queensland's Stuart Law, who scored 54 not out in his only knock in the Baggy Green against Sri Lanka at the WACA Ground in 1995.
But for those who watched it, either as part of the 37,932 in attendance on television or via cricket.com.au's Live Pass, Handscomb's innings will be remembered for the composure that belies his Test novice status.
That being said, he was almost out on both his first and second balls in Test cricket.
Fronting up to veteran seamer Vernon Philander, the 25-year-old played and missed a ball that teased to kiss the outside edge before nearly bunting a return catch from his next delivery.
"I was just happy to survive those first two balls to be fair," Handscomb told reporters after play.
"It wasn't a bad one from Vernon first up then I nearly hit one straight back to him.
"Once I got past that it was actually ok.
"I'd faced Vernon a little bit during the Aussie A series this winter so I wasn't comfortable against him but it was nice to know that I had faced him before and survived against him.
"And then to go out there and back my own game and know that I'm feeling good and my movements are good.
"It's just about trying to get into my own process as quickly as I could and go from there."
Touted as an accomplished player of spin bowling, the Victorian made light work of Faf du Plessis' specialist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (12 from 17 balls) and his casual employees Dean Elgar (7 from 7) and JP Duminy (7 from 9).
Quick Single: Andrew Ramsey's day two report
It perhaps settled him down, allowing his unorthodox technique and balanced batting stance deep in his crease to find their groove at the highest level before facing the threat of the second new ball.
On 41 he was in the middle of another stoush with Philander when adrenaline took over, cracking the first three balls of the 84th over to the fence to bring up a maiden Test match half-century and more importantly give Australia the lead.
The first two balls from Philander were floated up and swung away only to be met by the full face of Handscomb's bat and sent to the cover rope and then the point boundary, respectively.
The third ball, dropped shorter but still outside off stump, was agriculturally pulled between the fielders at straight mid-wicket and wide mid-on, not that it was meant to go there.
"I definitely did not mean to hit that pull shot," Handscomb said.
"But luckily enough it came out of the middle and went into the gap, so that was a nice feeling.
"I took a little moment there just to try and enjoy it and lap it up as much as I could.
"But then I had to try and quieten down and go back into my bubble and play the way I play."
Eight balls later it was all over.
Kyle Abbott, head and shoulders the pick of the seamers on day two, had pushed him back and back and back in the previous over – a maiden – and started his next to the youngster with a ball that was full and nipped back.
Deep in his crease and camped on the back foot, Handscomb missed and Abbott hit, the middle stump knocked back and the Zing Bails sent flying.
Abbott told reporters after play he had to change his plan to the Test rookie having not seen much of him in the lead-up to the third Test.
"We had seen a little bit of video footage of him beforehand so it was a bit of trial and error out there," Abbott said.
"He's a quite difficult to bowl to. He does stand quite far back in his crease, so the idea was to get it up to him but then found that he was pretty strong on his legs and he hit a well through cover, then we had to readjust from there.
Quick Single: Day two's events in a nutshell
"Settling back into that, believe it or not, top of off (stump) good length worked."
A solid debut, one full of promise and perhaps a glimpse of greatness there, but it's not over yet.
Not just in this Test, but the many more he'll likely appear in for the next decade.
"Cricket is never easy," Handscomb said.
"It's one of those games where it can change very quickly.
"You're one innings away from being in a rut, or you're one innings away from going a massive roll.
"There is that chance there to try and cement a spot in the middle order, which I'll be trying to take with both hands (by) just going out there and doing what I do and hopefully it will be enough."
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