Handscomb furthers Test claims with double century
CRICKET: If being struck on the helmet by a bouncer wasn't bad enough for Adam Voges, a double-century from Peter Handscomb must have felt like a sledgehammer.
Already reeling from a form slump in which he has failed to pass 50 in 10 Test innings, the 37-year-old has received back-to-back blows in his bid to keep his spot in the Australian side for the third Test against South Africa in Adelaide, starting on Thursday.
In front of national skipper Steve Smith, who ultimately dismissed him, and having made light work of Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon, the dashing Handscomb clubbed 215 for Victoria in its Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales at the SCG.
The 25-year-old now seems certain to replace Voges, who was laid up on Friday after the sickening blow while playing for Western Australia against Tasmania at the WACA on Thursday.
Voges was 16 not out when a delivery from Tasmania's Cameron Stevenson hit him on the helmet as he tried to turn away.
Warriors coach Justin Langer said Voges, suffering concussion, was still feeling the effects on Friday, but was "recovering quite well”.
"It was a bad blow ... it was a bit like a boxer getting knocked out,” Langer told Fox Sports. "Thankfully he could walk off.
"He didn't have much sleep last night. He has a headache this morning and he's a bit groggy.”
But, describing him as "one of the toughest blokes in Australian cricket”, Langer was confident Voges was capable of getting back to his best.
"He is that resilient and that tough, and one of the things he is going to have to do is get back on the horse and start batting again,” he said.
"When you have a blow like that, from experience, it takes a bit of courage and time to get your strategies about how you will keep facing the short bowling.
"If he has the hunger to do that, then he will be fine.”
He may not be given another opportunity at Test level again, however, with Handscomb providing the revamped Australian selection panel 200 reasons to slot him into the middle order - 215, in fact.
Handscomb has now registered scores of 112, 61no, four, 14, 137, 87, 24, 78, 10, 60 and 215 from his past 11 first-class innings.
"If (a call-up) happens I feel pretty good. I'd love to take the opportunity and get out there and give it a crack at the next level,” Handscomb said.
"But having never been there I can't tell you whether I'll be any good or not, but I'd love to give it a crack.
"I'm trying not to think about it. My job in these four days is to win the game for Victoria and make sure I do everything I can for Victoria.”
Handscomb plundered 23 fours and one six in his 356-ball knock as the Bushrangers racked up 6(dec)-510. Notably, Lyon went for 0-141 from 39 overs.
Callum Ferguson, meanwhile, made just four batting for South Australia at the Gabba. The Redbacks are in pursuit of Queensland's first-innings total of 7(dec)-475, anchored by tons from Usman Khawaja and another Test bastman in waiting, Matt Renshaw.
But, despite his failure, and even with Australia on a losing run now stretching to five matches, Ferguson is unlikely to be dropped after just one Test.
His fellow Redbacks Test aspirants, batsmen Travis Head (37) and Jake Lehmann (seven) and spinner Adam Zampa (4-141), had mixed fortunes against the Bulls.