Langer’s worry for Handscomb before Boxing Day Test

Coach Justin Langer has questioned whether Peter Handscomb is committing batting's cardinal sin as selectors deliberate over the embattled batsman's Test future.

Handscomb has been named in an unchanged 13-man squad for the final two matches of the series but he faces a nervous week ahead to learn if he will play in the Boxing Day Test.

Questions: Peter Handscomb's position in Australia's Test XI is in peril.

Questions: Peter Handscomb's position in Australia's Test XI is in peril.Credit:AP

In a sign of their confidence over Aaron Finch's finger, selectors did not name a shadow batsman for the opener.

Australia's inexperienced batting line-up have now all reached 50 at least once this series with the exception of Handscomb, who is facing a challenge from all-rounder Mitchell Marsh for his place in the XI.


Selectors said before the first Test Marsh would come into consideration when the series heads to the less bowler-friendly tracks of Melbourne and Sydney.

Handscomb worked closely on his unorthodox technique with former Test opener Chris Rogers during the off-season but it has not paid dividends at the highest level.

The Victorian made seven and 13, taking his tally to 68 at 17 since being recalled for the first Test. He has now made only two half-centuries in his past 21 innings.

Test great Shane Warne, a former Melbourne Stars teammate of Handscomb, has called for him to be dropped.

Handscomb's dismissal in the second innings, trapped leg before wicket deep in his crease, was similar to the way he fell 12 months ago to James Anderson, which resulted in his axing.

Langer is questioning if Handscomb is watching the ball closely enough.

"If you come into an environment like this and there's so much spotlight on his game. It's just another distraction for him," Langer said on Fox Sports.

"The only thing I spoke about to him so far is I wonder if he's watching the ball.

"There are times when he was playing back to balls he could have played forward to, playing forward to balls he could have gone back to, that's the toughest thing about Test cricket – just concentrating on the next ball."

Langer said it was too late for Handscomb, 27, to change his technique.

"Maybe he can shuffle around where he stands, he can change his intent, but that's his game," Langer said.

"That's how he's going to be for the rest of his career now."

Australia's batsmen have not scored a century but are receiving a more even contribution than India, who have relied heavily on Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

"We are trying to score hundreds, firstly, but, obviously, another key thing is batting for long periods of time as a team," captain Tim Paine said.

"I said in Adelaide this was going to be a long, tough series. The longer we can bat in the first couple of Test matches, we might see some benefit of that in the back end with the last two Tests in Sydney and Melbourne.

"We might not but I think the more and more you can make bowlers bowl, traditionally they tire at some stage.

"It's a real focus for us to bat for a long period of time. Our lower order and tail are really an important part of that and so far they have been doing a really good job."

Australia wrapped up victory swiftly on the final day, taking just 15 overs to claim the five wickets needed.

Spinner Nathan Lyon was judged player of the match after taking eight wickets.

AUSTRALIA: Tim Paine (c), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Mitchell Marsh (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc.

Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald

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