Lessons from ‘A’ tour pays off for Handscomb

Campaigns in India have thrown up exciting talents for Australia in the past. Michael Clarke emerged in 2004. Will it be Handscomb this time?

Peter Handscomb stands with his legs rather wide apart at the crease but does get himself into beautiful positions as he strikes the ball and possesses an essential quality — balance.   -  AP

Peter Handscomb learnt the merits of footwork rather early in his cricketing journey.

“My dad taught me footwork at the nets when I was just 12. I used my feet to get down the wicket or go back. It’s just a confidence thing, using your feet to every ball,” the Australian revealed in Chennai during his visit to India with the ‘A’ team in 2015.

He made runs on that tour, and more importantly, inspired confidence with his fleet-footed methods against the spinners.

And when Handscomb came up with that match-saving unbeaten 72 here on Monday, an innings of soft hands, deft touch and decisive footwork, the lessons from the ‘A’ tour had paid off.

It was extreme adversity – the South Africans had blown the Australians away by an innings and 80 runs at Hobart to take a winning 2-0 lead in the series – this season that forced the selectors to opt for a bunch of new batsmen including Handscomb and opener Matt Renshaw.

The message to the young batsmen was clear – sink or swim.

And the two did a lot more than stay afloat as Australia won the next five Tests, defeating South Africa in the final Test, blanking Pakistan in the three-Test series and shocking India at Pune.

The Aussies, resilient as ever, rose again from the ashes and the 25-year-old Handscomb, adding steel to his flair, made 105 and 110, in the Brisbane and Sydney Tests against Pakistan.

In India, this Melbourne-born middle-order batsman got starts at Pune and Bengaluru without quite consolidating. Was he throwing it all away?

But then, Handscomb made his second innings stay count here, with some nerveless, sure-footed batting under extreme pressure on a fifth day pitch; the Indians were closing in for the kill after removing the influential Steve Smith before lunch. The pressure was immense but Handscomb, along with the left-handed Shaun Marsh, was calm, assured and full of belief.

Handscomb stands with his legs rather wide apart at the crease but does get himself into beautiful positions as he strikes the ball and possesses an essential quality — balance.

Conversations with former Australian cricketer David Hussey have enabled Handscomb evolve as a batsman.

Campaigns in India have thrown up exciting talents for Australia in the past. Michael Clarke emerged in 2004. Will it be Handscomb this time?

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