Handscomb ‘must keep for Vics’ before replacing Wade

Dhaka: Peter Handscomb must don the wicketkeeping gloves for his state before being considered for the job in Test cricket, says Victorian great Dean Jones.

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There have been renewed calls for Handscomb to become Australia’s keeper at the expense of Matthew Wade after Wade endured a torrid time with both bat and gloves during the first Test loss to Bangladesh in Dhaka.

While Wade snaffled a terrific catch off the bowling of Ashton Agar during the second innings, he conceded 30 byes, a lot even when taking into account the variable bounce at the Shere Bangla Stadium.

Wade made just five and four with the bat, dismissed lbw in both innings, although he was unlucky to be out in the first dig, opting not to review a decision that would have been overturned.

Recalled to the Test team late last year in place of Peter Nevill, Wade is averaging just 21.25 with the bat. The question has been raised as to whether Victorian captain Handscomb – who has kept intermittently in his domestic career – could do so at Test level in order to free up a spot in the XI.

But Handscomb isn’t dominating with the bat either. He made 33 and 15 in Dhaka, and while his Test average remains just a shade below 50, he has passed 50 just once in five Tests on the subcontinent this year.

Victoria have three Sheffield Shield matches before the first Ashes Test, and according to Jones, Handscomb would need to get the gloves ahead of the emerging Sam Harper and Seb Gotch to be in the mix to keep for Australia.

“He needs to keep for the Bushrangers first,” Jones tweeted on Wednesday when asked about the prospect of Handscomb keeping against England.

Victorian selectors won’t have to make the call for Handscomb to keep ahead of Wade, with the latter returning to his native Tasmania during the off-season.

Questioned recently about the possibility of him taking the gloves in the Test team, Handscomb said he was open to the idea.

“I guess it’s an interesting one. I was doing some white ball keeping for Yorkshire in England as well,” Handscomb said during the pre-tour camp in Darwin.

“Ultimately I’m happy to do it if it’s good for team balance, if it opens up another position for a batter or a bowler to come into the side. But first and foremost I’ve always said that batting is my No.1.”

Speaking after play on Tuesday, Australian quick Pat Cummins defended Wade’s keeping in “harsh” conditions.

“I think somewhere like India as the game gets on, out of the rough, some of the balls roll. Here it looks like a lot of them kick up,” Cummins said.

“For a keeper, looking at some of the hawk eye ball tracker after the game, some of them are kicking up above his head from only a metre in front of him. I thought his catch off Agar was an incredible catch. We talk about trying to piece together a couple of special moments in the field, and that was definitely a special moment.”

Australia will make at least one change for the second Test against Bangladesh starting on Monday in Chittagong with fast bowler Josh Hazlewood having left the country with a side strain. He has been replaced in the touring party by left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe. Australian captain Steve Smith said after the loss that O’Keefe could feature in a three-pronged spin attack in Chittagong depending on the conditions. Seamer Jackson Bird and uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson are also in the squad.

Usman Khawaja is also under pressure after his twin failures at the Shere Bangla Stadium, with backup batsman Hilton Cartwright another option.

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