Peter Handscomb's innovative captaincy draws praise from Rod Marsh
Australian chief selector Rod Marsh was full of praise for Australia A skipper Peter Handscomb after his innovative captaincy helped Australia A clinch the first of the two four-day first-class matches against the visiting South African side by 197 runs. Though the Australian pace trio of Joe Mennie, Chris Tremain and Dan Worrall, who collected 17 of the 20 wickets, were fully deserving of the praise they earned, Handscomb earned as much plaudits for his bowling changes and peculiar fielding positions.
“Peter led wonderfully in Australia A's victory over South Africa A at Allan Border Field in the longer format and will benefit from having a leadership role in the one-day matches," Marsh said. "He shapes as one of this country's best up-and-coming leaders on the field."
Hadscomb, on his part, was very modest after learning of Marsh’s comments and claimed that he has been helped largely by the experience of playing around 60 first-class matches, where he has had the opportunity to play under skippers like Cameron White, regarded as one of the best skippers ever in the Australian domestic circuit.
"I've been lucky that I've been under captains like Cameron White and Matthew Wade, and I've played on a lot of flat MCG wickets where you do have to be thinking outside the box – you have to make something out of nothing," Handscomb told cricket.com.au. "You have to make a batsman think that a certain ball's coming that isn't actually coming, and mix their feet up or make them play in an area they don't want to play. So there might have been some random fields out there but there are always thought processes behind it."
Handscomb admitted that he enjoys the responsibility of leading out the side but also wants to make sure that he scores enough runs with the bat as well to be in regular contention for a spot in the Australian senior side.
"I was pretty excited to grab (the captaincy) with both hands," he said. "It's not something I've ever tried to push for, but I've always thought about the game in that way.I've been standing in the slips next to guys like Cameron White, Dan Christian, Dave Hussey and Matthew Wade – we're always talking about the game, and I feel like I've got a relatively good cricket brain on me.
"So it's nice to captain a team that's been pretty good so far, and hopefully, does the same the next game. It's a nice feather in the cap, it feels good, but the main thing for me now is to not only captain well but to score runs. I don't want to let that affect my batting, and I don't think it did (in Brisbane) – I feel like I'm batting well, so hopefully the runs come in this next game."
With Steven Smith’s side struggling to get to grips with the pitches in Sri Lanka, having already surrendered the three-Test series with a match to go, new Australia A bowling coach David Saker believes Handscomb should be blooded into the senior team sooner rather than later as he is equally comfortable playing against both spin and pace.
"He'd hold himself really well, but it's hard to break in (to the Test team)," Saker said, "If it's not this season I think it will be down the track. With his ability to play spin and fast bowling, his name will keep getting brought up at the selection table, without a doubt. He's got a pretty uncomplicated game, he keeps it quite simple.