Why Handscomb should keep in ODIs

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Australia ended their long limited overs tour of India with a poor 2-5 win-loss record but amid this disappointing performance were a number of bright spots for the tourists.

    Here are three key talking points from the five ODIs and three T20s in India.

    Marcus Stoinis has pinched Glenn Maxwell’s ODI spot
    Stoinis came into Australia’s ODI side as a like-for-like replacement for fellow WA all-rounder Mitch Marsh. But over the course of seven ODIs this year, during which Stoinis was outstanding, he has effectively stolen the spot of Glenn Maxwell.

    Australia cannot accommodate Maxwell, Stoinis and Marsh in the same line-up, and Maxwell is the most likely to make way.

    I expect Marsh, once fully fit, to come straight back into the ODI side thanks to his fine record for Australia. Not only does Marsh have impressive numbers – a batting average of 35 and bowling average of 36 – but he’s also a proven match winner, having won six man-of-the-match awards during his 48-match career.

    That’s a ratio of one MOM award every eight games, which is extremely impressive when you compare it to the ratios of England all-rounder Ben Stokes (one per 15 matches) or Australian skipper Steve Smith (one per 15 matches).

    Marsh is not currently able to bowl but is in cracking touch for WA in the domestic 50-over competition, with 134 runs for just one dismissal and a blistering strike rate of 110. On batting alone, he warrants a position in Australia’s ODI team ahead of Maxwell, who has averaged just 22 with the blade in his past 20 ODIs.

    Stoinis, meanwhile, deserves a long run in the ODI team after displaying a rare mix of composure and dynamism with the bat. His ability to rebuild after a collapse, or blaze when his team’s on top, is exactly what every ODI team wants from their number six.

    Stoinis’ bowling remains a work in progress but, with Marsh in the XI, that pair would only need to share 10 overs per match, along with off spinner Travis Head. Stoinis bowled much better than his figures across this tour suggested.

    He finished the series on a positive note with the ball by taking 1-20 from four overs in a very tidy display in the second T20I.

    Marcus Stoinis of Australia celebrates

    Handscomb can steady Australia’s ODI middle order
    Here’s a stat you probably haven’t seen before – In the 27 List A matches Peter Handscomb has played as a wicketkeeper, he has piled up an 904 runs at 50. Handscomb’s recent form is even better, having hammered 480 runs at 69 including two tons in the eight List A matches he’s played as a keeper this year.

    With David Warner and Aaron Finch opening, and Marcus Stoinis and Mitch Marsh down the order, Australia’s first-choice ODI XI would have more than enough firepower.

    Australia’s key batting weakness in ODIs has been the lack of stability in its middle order.

    Too often in recent times the top order have set a good platform only for the middle order to subside. With Smith at three and blossoming youngster Travis Head at four, Australia look solid. But they would benefit from a third reliable, accumulator-style batsman at five, someone who does not rely on big shots to keep the scoreboard moving.

    The best option would be to hand this number five position, as well as the gloves, to Handscomb. Matthew Wade patently cannot remain in the ODI line-up after averaging just 26 with the bat over the past two calendar years.

    Australia need a keeper to bat somewhere between five and seven in their ODI line-up. Former Test gloveman Peter Nevill is ill-suited to batting down the order, having averaged just 19 with the bat over the past three domestic 50-over tournaments, while batting at either five or six in each match.

    Tim Paine has a fine List A record but his age is an issue. Australia need to start building a team to win the 2019 World Cup and Paine will be pushing 35 years old by the time that tournament rolls around.

    Handscomb’s keeping, admittedly, is not to the same standard as Nevill or Paine. But from what I’ve seen of his glovework at domestic level he is no worse than Wade and surely would improve as he gets more time behind the stumps.

    Peter Handscomb of Australia looks at the wicket keepers gloves

    What is undoubted is that Handscomb is a dominant batsman when he keeps, as evidenced by the stats I listed above. With Wade having flopped, and questions marks over Paine and Nevill’s suitability for the ODI side, Australia should offer Handscomb a long run with the gloves. If this move doesn’t come off, they can always fall back to Paine or Nevill.

    If it does, they will have finally plugged a gaping hole which has existed in the ODI side for more than two years now.

    Hardik Pandya is a superstar-in-the-making
    Stokes is the most-hyped all-rounder in world cricket but, in the ODI format, India’s Hardik Pandya is already his equal just 26 matches into his career.

    At 24 years old, Pandya is two years younger than Stokes and here are their respective ODI averages after 26 matches:

    Pandya – batting average of 40 (strike rate 121) and bowling average of 34.

    Stokes – batting average of 16 (strike rate 79) and bowling average of 37.

    Pandya is so far advanced on Stokes at that same stage of their ODI careers that there really is no comparison. Leading into Australia’s tour of India, I was well aware of the extraordinary hitting power of Pandya.

    What wasn’t apparent to me was his versatility. Over the course of the ODI series, Pandya underlined that he has multiple gears to his batting.

    In the first ODI, Pandya came out and blazed 83 from 66 balls, a knock which included five sixes. Then in the third ODI he steered India towards a successful chase with a more restrained innings of 78 from 72 balls.

    In both innings he had patches where his scoring rate slowed due to good bowling and Pandya remained patient and waited for the game to open up for him.

    Overall, though, it was his phenomenal ball striking against spin which left the strongest impression. The ease with which he dispatches slow bowlers for six is truly uncommon.
    Meanwhile, he did a solid job with the ball for India, taking six wickets at 31 for the series.

    He has good pace, pushing the speed gun as high as 142kmh, plus a nice change of pace and a decent bouncer. To top it all off he is an athletic and skilful fielder. Pandya’s potential in ODIs and T20s is gigantic.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (63)

    • October 15th 2017 @ 4:56am
      Vikram sudan said | October 15th 2017 @ 4:56am | ! Report

      Australia should pick up the Alex Carey for keeping and Handcomb should also pick up for middle order

      • October 15th 2017 @ 7:05am
        Jameswm said | October 15th 2017 @ 7:05am | ! Report

        Why do that when Handscomb can give you 2 for 1?

        • Roar Guru

          October 15th 2017 @ 9:04am
          Rellum said | October 15th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

          Because Carey is capable of being an international standard keeper and Handscomb is most likely not( He will not ge enough game time playing for the Test team). We need a professional keeper playing for Aus, not a fill in part timer. If we are planning for the World Cup then we need to plan for a high pressure final where a keeper can pull off what is needed in the critical moment.

          • Roar Rookie

            October 15th 2017 @ 10:13am
            Matthew Pearce said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

            Thank you. We’ve already seen what happens when your keeper is under-performing, don’t chuck in a part-timer when you’ve got very good glovesmen stuck in domestic cricket.

            This is exactly the same mentality as what got Wade reinstalled; everyone wants Handscomb to keep because he’s a really good batsman. I don’t understand it.

            • Roar Guru

              October 15th 2017 @ 10:43am
              Rellum said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

              Because the modern game, or at least some of it’s fans do not value the art of wicket keeping. I can’t imagine what Warnie’s record would have been like with the current international keepers during his heyday.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 15th 2017 @ 11:08am
                Matthew Pearce said | October 15th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                Probably would only have about half the wickets. Did anyone keep track of how many wickets Lyon was robbed of during Wade’s first stint? Stuff like that is exactly why you need specialist keepers.

                We’re past the point where you had brilliant keepers who also happened to be awful with the bat, is there really that big a difference in the batting abilities of all the current domestic keepers anyway? Everyone can bat in the professional era, pick specialist positions for their primary attribute.

                Reminds me of all the people who got up in arms when Mennie was picked over Bird because he was a better batsman. Seems irony is lost on some people.

              • Columnist

                October 15th 2017 @ 6:38pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | October 15th 2017 @ 6:38pm | ! Report

                Rellum do you think Carey is ready to be Australia’s long-term ODI keeper right now?

                He’s only played 12 List A matches. And there is also a big question about how Carey would fit into the batting order….. he opens for SA and scores extremely slowly (strike rate of 71) but in ODIs he can’t open and would have to bat at 7 like Wade did and often be required to come in and blaze straight away.

                That’s the same issue with Paine, who is an opener, and Nevill, who has struggled badly batting down the order for NSW – neither of them are suited to batting at 7 in 50-over cricket because they like to score slowly and build an innings.

                The way I see it is that Australia have at least 35 ODIs until the next World Cup. I’d give Handscomb the next 12 matches as a gloveman to give him time to develop.

                If his keeping isn’t up to scratch then Australia can pick Carey, who would have plenty more domestic cricket under his belt by then, and give him 20-odd matches to settle into the ODI side before the World Cup.

                Or they could always go back to Paine/Nevill. Right now they have enough time to experiment with Handscomb and see if he can become a competent ODI keeper. If he can, what a player they would have, the whole balance of the side would be transformed dramatically and a major, major issue would be sorted.

              • October 15th 2017 @ 9:27pm
                Don Freo said | October 15th 2017 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

                Just get a good surgeon for Sam Whiteman and any problem is dispersed.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 15th 2017 @ 7:11pm
                Matthew Pearce said | October 15th 2017 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

                Nevill’s strike rate for the one-day comp is currently 93. Sure, there haven’t been any major cameos, but most of the time everyone else is getting out around him, and he’s still scoring at just short of a run-a-ball. Sounds alright to me. He’s also coming in at the end of the innings off the back of a dominant top order. Like I said before, how many players nowadays can’t score runs, or even just swing the bat around a bit?

                I agree that Carey isn’t ready for international cricket yet, which is why I personally advocate for Nevill.

                It’s still that same point, though. How can you pick Handscomb for keeper on the basis that his batting is good and his keeping could be passable? There’d better not be any more mention of how allrounders are bad if we’re happy with this.

                Besides, assuming he does do it, he’s going to need to spend more time practicing it, which means that he’ll have less time to practice batting, which means his batting will drop off. Then we have another bloke who’s alright at two departments, but can’t excel at one anymore. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen that before.

                I don’t see how limited overs should have a lesser standard for keeping than tests, when that doesn’t hold true for any other aspect of play. Pick the best keeper, there’s 10 other blokes to help score runs.

                Of course, I’m not Rellum, so take it as you will.

              • October 15th 2017 @ 9:21pm
                Don Freo said | October 15th 2017 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

                Bancroft’s strike rate is 110…and (until today’s 3 ball duck) a really good average. Now it’s only 47.

              • October 15th 2017 @ 8:13pm
                Nudge said | October 15th 2017 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

                Matthew, just curious have you actually ever watched Handscomb keep over the 50 over duration of a game 4 or 5 times? I haven’t, so just wondering if you are guessing that Handscomb isn’t up to keeping in one day internationals, or if you’ve seen with your own eyes that he isn’t. I’ve got no idea because I’ve only seen little 10 minute periods here and there. But I find it interesting that Victoria had faith in him keeping all of last years one Dayers so that tells me they think he’s alright. I’m guessing he would be still keeping for Victoria’s shield team if he didn’t stand down to just concentrate on his batting. I think you might be surprised how good he is.
                I’m with Ronan, I’d look at him over the next 10 one dayers to see what he has got. Because if he does show that he is rock solid with the gloves,,it would be a massive massive plus for the one day team. What it virtually gives you is 1 extra player. And that one extra player could be Glenn Maxwell, and he’d be pretty handy coming in at 5 for 250 off 42. Neville just wouldn’t have the same influence

              • Roar Rookie

                October 15th 2017 @ 8:33pm
                Matthew Pearce said | October 15th 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

                I haven’t seen all that much of Handscomb’s keeping, but what I have seen wasn’t all that impressive, made Wade look good. But, to be fair, that was last summer, he may well have improved since then. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Handscomb was only keeping because Sam Harper got injured. I’m presuming between Harper and Wade, there’s either no-one else or Handscomb is the best of the lot.

                He may even look good in domestic cricket now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s capable of doing it for Australia.

                I understand that argument, but it doesn’t always hold up. It only gives you an extra player if he’s capable of maintaining a high enough standard with both. How many players can do that? And how many could do that if we held limited overs keeping to the same standard as test keeping, which we don’t seem to for some reason.

                Nevill was deemed good enough to take over to India for the world T20, why is he not good enough for the ODI team? Wanting batsmen-keepers is the exact same logic that we use to pick a plethora of all-rounders that everyone moans about. I don’t subscribe to the theory that the keeper needs to be a top order bat.

                Like I said before, it’s the same reasoning that got Wade back into the test team; his batting’s good, so we’ll pick him to be the keeper. I don’t follow it. You don’t pick bowlers for their fielding, so don’t pick keepers for their batting. Let him be the best keeper, catches win matches, after all.

              • October 15th 2017 @ 9:05pm
                Nudge said | October 15th 2017 @ 9:05pm | ! Report

                Sam Harper wasn’t injured, Victoria just did the exact thing Ronan is suggesting. As mentioned it give’s you 1 extra player if his keeping is good enough. In Australia’s case that is probably actually Mitch Marsh not Maxwell.
                If you look good in domestic cricket then you’ll look good in international cricket. If you can catch you can catch so going to a higher level isn’t going to change anything.
                And you keep mentioning we need to hold the importance of limited overs keepers to the same standard as test keepers. Why? Test keepers sometimes have to keep for over 200 overs. One day keepers 50. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a very important role as a white ball keeper, but no where near as important as test cricket.
                Peter Neville was taken over to the 20/20 because they had the belief that in 20/20 cricket if your top 7 can’t do the job then your pretty well in trouble anyway.
                If Neville was in the one day team we would be taking a step back to 20 years ago when Healy was keeping. Look at some of the other countries keepers now. Butler, not the best gloveman in England but a top 6 bat and massive hitter. Dhoni not the best gloveman in India but a top 6 bat and big hitter. Chandimal top 6 batter, De Kock top 6 batter and so on.
                I really can’t see the problem with giving Handscomb a go for 10 matches. I think it’s a really positive move. Especially if it means we can get an extra player in the team and that player being Mitch Marsh.

              • Columnist

                October 15th 2017 @ 9:18pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | October 15th 2017 @ 9:18pm | ! Report

                In the past 3 seasons, Nevill has scored 227 runs from 21 matches – that’s 11 runs per match. He’s contributed next to nothing with the bat for NSW.

                Handscomb has a career average of 50 when he keeps. So Handscomb’s worth an extra, say 25 runs per match, compared to Nevill.

                The question then is….. is Nevill’s keeping 25+ runs per match better than Handscomb’s?

                And let’s not forget the major difference between them – Nevill is about to turn 32 years old and is at the tail end of his career, whereas Handscomb is 26 and has it all in front of him.

              • Roar Rookie

                October 15th 2017 @ 10:05pm
                Matthew Pearce said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:05pm | ! Report

                Fair enough, I got my dates mixed up re the Harper injury.

                “If you look good in domestic cricket, you’ll look good in international cricket”. Not necessarily, that’s the whole point of this discussion. As for why I think it should be as important as it is in the test team, I think so because it’s the same as every other aspect. Batting’s just as important, bowling’s just as important, fielding’s just as important. Just because there’s less overs doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be held to the same standard. And again, that logic was acceptable for T20s, what’s so different about ODIs?

                I’m sorry, I don’t mean to disparage the rest of your arguments, because they’ve been good, but I can’t take that comment about Healy seriously. Healy was the perfect example of how important a good keeper is. Just because most teams accept a batsman-keeper, doesn’t mean it should be done. Also, I would disagree on Dhoni and de Kock, they’re both outstanding glovemen, if there’s better keepers in those teams I haven’t seen them play.

                Ronan, that is true about Nevill’s runs, but he hasn’t needed to contribute runs, the top order has been dominating the whole time. Just this season, Maddinson and Hughes have put on 3 century stands. And he’s still scoring at nearly a run-a-ball as well, that’s including today’s knock. Handscomb is playing as a batsman first, of course he’s going to be scoring more runs, I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. Regarding the ages, Nevill still has enough time to play in the next World Cup, should still be valid. Haddin played in the last WC, after all.

                I wouldn’t be opposed to Handscomb donning the gloves in more inconsequential matches, but I think ultimately you should pick the best keeper.

          • October 16th 2017 @ 1:49am
            Mike Dugg said | October 16th 2017 @ 1:49am | ! Report

            Can’t carry someone averaging 20 like Carey would with such a fragile batting order

    • October 15th 2017 @ 7:04am
      Jameswm said | October 15th 2017 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      Can’t argue with all that. Handscomb is an underrated white ball batsman and can keep close to as well as Wade.

      • October 15th 2017 @ 10:19am
        Don Freo said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        The Handscomb quality batsman who can keep as well as Paine and Nevill is Cam Bancroft.

        • October 16th 2017 @ 4:57pm
          matth said | October 16th 2017 @ 4:57pm | ! Report

          It’s interesting that Bancroft’s strike rate appears to have gone up a notch this season or is that just my imagination?

    • October 15th 2017 @ 7:53am
      dangertroy said | October 15th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      The next world cup is in England, so the keeper isn’t going to be standing up to the stumps as often as if it were in the subcontinent. To me, it’s really downtown whether or not handscomb wants to play as a keeper. I’ve heard a few times that he is reluctant to do so. Personally, I wouldn’t want to burden him if it will affect his batting, as I think he has the potential to develop into a superb batsman for the ODI and test side. If we need a non specialist keeper from the top 7, how about Davey Warner? He’s kept a few times and been serviceable.

      On stoinis, I’ve been impressed by his ability to dig us out of a hole in a few of his innings. That’s the kind of batsman we need coming in at 6, someone who can stop the rot if required. Right now when we lose a wicket our new batsman are jittery and that in turn ups the pressure on the set batsman. The set batsman!an was motoring along nicely, but suddenly has to drop back three years and try to soak up pressure again to protect the new guy. It should be the other way around with the new batsman soaking up the pressure and letting the set batsman keep ticking the score along. Stoinis can hopefully develop into someone who can do that consistently, and pick up the pace when required too.

      • October 15th 2017 @ 9:19am
        Adam said | October 15th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        What do mean he’s first choice keeper at Victoria one day level so that should answer your dumb question and even if we wanted him as keeper and he didn’t want to he would still be doing it not good enough as straight batsman and he’ll do what he’s told.

        • October 15th 2017 @ 10:18am
          dangertroy said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

          Well, no need to be nasty Adam, I know this is a comment on the internet but there’s no reason you can’t respond to my point in a civil manner.

          Handscomb has been keeping for Victoria in Wades absence, but until his move to Tasmania Wade was the first choice keeper. Handscomb has described himself as a part time keeper as recently as the tour of new Zealand. Reluctant might be overstating it slightly – I’m sure if the decision was between playing as the keeper or being out of the side, he would happily don the gloves. But that doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t feel like he was ready for it full time.

          Personally I’d love for him to be able to fill the keeping role giving us space for another batsman. But only if it doesn’t affect his batting – he is yet to cement a spot purely as a batsman, so needs to concentrate on that first without the burden of wicket keeping. Otherwise we have part time keeper that’s not pulling his weight with the bat. Which is basically where we are now.

          • October 15th 2017 @ 3:58pm
            Basil said | October 15th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

            Don’t worry dangertroy. This is nothing compared to the name calling in the AFL section of the Roar. It seems many can’t engage in interesting debate without resorting to schoolyard level name calling.

            • October 15th 2017 @ 6:52pm
              dangertroy said | October 15th 2017 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

              Thanks basil. I’m fairly thick skinned, but I’m on a mission to civilise.

      • Columnist

        October 15th 2017 @ 10:00am
        Ronan O'Connell said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

        I agree Dangertroy, I couldn’t have been more impressed with Stoinis’ batting so far, he’s been brilliant. His versatility is very valuable.

      • October 15th 2017 @ 1:06pm
        Simon said | October 15th 2017 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

        I agree, ultimately I think it’s up to Pete. A lot of people who haven’t kept don’t realise how much time has to be spent at training etc, time that’d have to be taken away from his batting. And I think Handscomb’s greatest strength for Australia will be his batting at 5 over a long period of time in test cricket. So do we really want to weaken that for the sake of the ODI side? It’s an interesting debate

    • October 15th 2017 @ 8:51am
      Adan said | October 15th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      First choice odi side especially for England should be

      Finch
      Warner
      Smith
      Head
      Handscomb wk
      Stonis
      Marsh
      Cummins
      Counter Nile
      Starc
      Zampa
      12 Hazelwood

      Maybe Stonis to 4 Head to 5 and Handscomb to 6 Marsh either 6 or 7

      • October 15th 2017 @ 11:34am
        Don Freo said | October 15th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        Stoinis is better the higher he bats.

        • Roar Guru

          October 15th 2017 @ 12:59pm
          Ryan H said | October 15th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

          Agree – he has more or less batted high up the order for domestic sides over the last few years – ie. at 3 or 4

    • October 15th 2017 @ 8:57am
      Adam said | October 15th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      First choice odi side especially for England should be.
      Finch
      Warner
      Smith
      Head
      Handscomb wk
      Stonis
      Marsh
      Cummins
      Starc
      Coulter Nile
      Zampa\Hazelwood

      Maybe stonis to 4 head to 5 and Handscomb to 6 marsh either 6 or 7. And depends on which side we vs but against India,Pakistan,Shi Lanka,Bangladesh just use finch and head no Zampa I’m telling you finch can get wickets and we no head can .

      • Columnist

        October 15th 2017 @ 10:01am
        Ronan O'Connell said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        That’s my side exactly Adam, except that I’d have Hazlewood as a lock and NCN/Cummins fighting it out for the 3rd paceman spot.

        • October 15th 2017 @ 10:23am
          Ross said | October 15th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          If another batsman fails get Khawaja in as he is firing again in the one day cup

          • October 15th 2017 @ 11:57am
            Nudge said | October 15th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

            My only change to that would be swapping Handscomb to 4 and Head to 5. Handscomb looks like an identical one day batsman to Michael Clarke. I’ve been saying it for a long time that the no 4 spot is our biggest weakness. I think Handscomb is the answer

    • October 15th 2017 @ 9:18am
      Bob Sims said | October 15th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      Hard to argue with all that, Ronan. As has been said, what it could well come down to, is whether Handscomb wants to take the gloves. He’s been picked originally as a batsman, and has done well, and if that’s how he wants to stay, that should, and probably will, be respected. Good to see Paine having something of a renaissance. Australia wouldn’t lose much by having him keep. In my opinion he offers more with the bat than Wade or Nevill.

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