Peter Handscomb’s technique should not be considered a defect but he needs to review footage from his successful debut Test season to regain form, according to selector Mark Waugh.
The Australian number five appears set to be spared the axe but his spot is under scrutiny after a lean start to the Ashes, having also scored just two half-centuries from this year’s Test tours of India and Bangladesh.
All-rounder Mitch Marsh has been brought into the 13-man squad and could unseat Handscomb for the third Test against England in Perth starting on Thursday.
But Waugh said the Victorian has the resilience to bounce back.
“Pete’s probably not in the best of form, we can all see that. But he’s got a good record — he averages about 47 in Test cricket,” Waugh told Sky Sports Radio on Friday.
“I think he’s probably just got to look at last season when he was playing well and making a lot of runs. What he was doing then. Is he doing something different now?
“He’s a mentally strong player, so we’ll wait and see. Hopefully he finds some good touch in the nets leading up to the Test match.”
Waugh noted Handscomb seldom looked comfortable in his innings of 36 and 12 in the second Test in Adelaide but said his slightly unorthodox batting technique was not an issue.
“Unfortunately, when a player with an unusual technique starts to not score runs and lose a bit of form, they probably look worse than a player who has a normal technique,” Waugh said.
“It wasn’t a total disaster. It’s probably the way he accumulated those runs.
“There probably weren’t a lot of balls hitting the middle of the bat. Mind you, it was one of those Test matches where the ball dominates the bat. It wasn’t the easiest match to look pretty.”
Marsh, who recently resumed bowling and impressed selectors with his domestic batting form, knows all too well the scrutiny faced by Australia’s incumbent number five batsman.
He himself has attracted criticism for averaging 21.74 with the bat in 21 Tests.
“I certainly have been there,” Marsh said.
“We’ve got a great relationship. Petey’s a great bloke, still averaging [almost] 50 in Test match cricket.
“In these situations you’re always going to come under scrutiny if you don’t get runs, but he’s a very good player.