Dumped Test batsman Peter Handscomb has sent a not-so-subtle message to Australian selectors, bludgeoning 70 in the Melbourne Stars’ five-wicket flogging of the Sydney Sixers in last night’s Big Bash League clash.
In his first hit out since being dropped from the Australian side for the Boxing Day Test against India, Handscomb’s knock came off just 35 balls as the Stars chased down their target of 131 with 5.1 overs to spare.
Albeit in the far shorter and more aggressive format, he showed none of the woes that have cruelled him in this summer’s Test series, where he averaged just 17 in four innings.
With captain Tim Paine strongly suggesting he could come back into the Australian side for next week’s final Test at the SCG, Handscomb’s knock couldn’t have come at a better time or place.
He brought up his 50 off just 22 balls, then accelerated again in what will likely be his only innings before next Thursday’s Test squad is selected after being replaced by Mitch Marsh in Melbourne.
“I think runs are runs,” Handscomb said.
“We saw Aaron Finch get picked in the Test side off the back of some solid T20 runs. But that was multiple games.
“This one being a one-hit, if I’m going to try and get back in I’ve got to do it again and again and again and really force my hand so selectors have no choice but to pick me.
“It was good to make runs today but it doesn’t mean much in the big scheme of things.”
Handscomb’s intent was clear from the outset, after he scored his first runs via a pull shot for six and hit two more maximums in the chase along with nine boundaries.
“(I’m) obviously frustrated and disappointed,” Handscomb said.
“But you can’t dwell too much on it. Obviously team balance was a big thing for the squad and we’ve seen we really needed Mitch Marsh to bowl those overs.
“It was an important change and that’s perfectly fine.”
The 27-year-old was finally caught at mid-off trying to drive Ben Dwarshuis on the up, but not before scoring the majority of the Stars’ runs – with Nick Larkin the next best batsman with 20.
It came after the Stars’ Nepalese legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane continued his stunning start to the competition, rocketing to the top of the tournament’s leading wicket-takers’ list.
The 18-year-old trapped both Moises Henriques and Tom Curran lbw to finish with figures of 2-18, the latter with a big turning wrong’un to headline the Sixers’ collapse.
Quick Jackson Coleman also claimed 3-18, as only Jordan Silk (41no off 37) and Sean Abbott (22 off 16) helped the Sixers to 9-130 after another top-order collapse.