NEW ZEALAND v AUSTRALIA
PETER Handscomb has neither the inclination nor intention to become Australia’s full-time wicketkeeper, instead he wants to show he belongs as a batsman in Test cricket’s ultimate proving ground.
His stance has been applauded by Brad Haddin, the retired stumper who sits fourth on Australia’s list of all-time Test dismissals.
Handscomb has taken the gloves throughout this week’s ODI series in New Zealand following stand-in skipper Matthew Wade’s back injury.
The 25-year-old did the same at the SCG last month, when Wade was sick.
Selectors opted against summoning a replacement gloveman across the Tasman for the three-match series.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns indicated earlier this week he’d be comfortable with Handscomb keeping throughout a Test in India, if Wade suffered a last-minute setback during the four-match series — from February 23.
Handscomb said there was no prospect of him claiming Wade’s spot in the XI on a long-term basis.
“It’s an absolute honour to put the gloves on for Australia, but, first and foremost, I’ve always been a batsman,” he said in Hamilton, where the Chappell-Hadlee trophy will be up for grabs today.
“I was throughout junior cricket, when I was keeping as well. Batting was always my number one, but going away for series and being the back-up keeper, I’m very happy to do.
“It’s definitely a little bit of extra pressure, but if that’s what the team needs, I’m happy.”
Haddin, who has worked with and mentored Handscomb, suggested the Victorian was “too good a batter” to be burdened with regular keeping.
Handscomb’s career is four Tests old and he already has two tons and an average of 99.75. “He’s got the right temperament to stop those collapses that we have,” Haddin said.
“He doesn’t get flustered at the wicket, he seems to handle the big stage with ease ... he got runs under pressure.”
Wade was expected to have scans and a cortisone injection upon return to Melbourne, before flying out today or tomorrow for a training camp in Dubai.