Australia's Peter Handscomb plays a shot during the tour of India in March.
Australia's Peter Handscomb plays a shot during the tour of India in March. Aijaz Rahi

Handscomb open to taking on wicketkeeping responsibility

PETER Handscomb says he's happy to take the wicketkeeping gloves for Australia if it's "good for team balance", opening up a raft of potential selection options in Bangladesh.

Earlier this year when he filled in behind the stumps for injured first-choice gloveman Matt Wade, Handscomb was keen to emphasise that his focus was purely on cementing himself as a top-order batsman.

However, after smashing a brilliant century and then putting on the gloves for the David Warner XI in Monday's intra-squad Bangladesh practice match in Darwin, Handscomb admitted that his keeping prospects were now somewhat of an "interesting" proposition.

Young all-rounder Hilton Cartwright put his hand up for selection in Bangladesh with a superb 81 in Darwin, while skipper Steve Smith gave hope he will add his name to Australia's spinning stocks in Bangladesh, after taking the wickets of Cartwright and Handscomb.

There is nothing at this stage to suggest Wade is going to be unseated as wicketkeeper in Bangladesh - given he is lining up for the Smith XI in the practice match - however, Handscomb is ready if selectors decide they want to add flexibility to the side for the two-Test series later this month.

"It's an interesting one. I was doing some white-ball keeping for Yorkshire in England as well (in the past weeks)," said Handscomb after he made 105 from 130 deliveries.


FILE- In this Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 file photo, Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed, right, sweeps the ball past Australia's Peter Handscomb during their cricket test match in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
Peter Handscomb keeps wickets behind Pakistan's Sarfraz Ahmed in January. Rick Rycroft

"Ultimately I'm happy to do it if it's good for team balance - if it opens up another position for a batter or bowler to come into the side.

"But first and foremost I've always said that batting is my No.1 and then keeping is definitely playing second fiddle."

If selectors were to make the bold call to drop Wade, it would be a risk, but a calculated one that would give the opportunity to either bolster the batting stocks or add another bowler to the arsenal.

At this stage it would seem Cartwright is competing with Usman Khawaja (who made six in Darwin) for the spot in the top order vacated by Shaun Marsh.

But hypothetically speaking, if Handscomb was appointed keeper, there could be room for both of them.

Wade performed solidly though in India and is a more than handy batsman in his own right.


Australia's Matthew Wade plays shot during the third day of their fourth test cricket match against India in Dharmsala, India, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)
Australia's Matthew Wade plays a shot against India in Dharmsala in March. Tsering Topgyal

Brad Haddin is Australia's new fielding and keeping coach and will be sure to work with both men on their glove work.

Handscomb said the Darwin pitch replicated subcontinental conditions, good news for Australia given their tour match in Bangladesh next week has been put under a cloud thanks to the ground at Fatullah becoming waterlogged with contaminated water.

Heavy rainfall has compounded the issue and it's likely the two-day match will have to be moved.

Handscomb was happy with his performance in the David Warner XI's total of 6-360 declared, particularly against a firing Josh Hazlewood, who was the best of the bowlers for the Steve Smith XI, which went to stumps at 2-32, with Smith himself at the crease.

"Spending time out in the middle is awesome preparation for any tour but especially here in Darwin on a wicket like that which is hopefully something similar to what we'll get in Bangladesh," said Handscomb.

"I felt really good in India (earlier in the year), obviously getting starts getting into the game and then not converting as many times as I'd hoped to. When I got in today I wanted to make sure I got used to batting for long periods of time again and making sure you get those big scores."