The Roar
The Roar


Forget the gloves, leave Handscomb to bat

Peter Handscomb has big gloves to fill. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
Roar Pro
6th January, 2017

I have something to tell all of those cricket supporters and sports journalists calling for Peter Handscomb to take up the wicketkeeping duties for the Australian Test team after looking the goods in deputising for the sick Matthew Wade.

Thumb through the history books and have a look at what the ‘keeping duties did for Wayne ‘Flipper’ Phillips back in the 1980s.

Like Handscomb, Phillips was a very good batsman who could keep wickets.

Like Handscomb, Phillips started very well in his 27-match Test career, being picked as an opening batsman in his first Test, against Pakistan, making 159 in the first innings. He finished his first series with 362 runs at an average of 60.33.

With Rod Marsh hanging up the gloves at the end of the 83-84 season, Australia’s wicket-keeping stocks were pretty ordinary. Roger Woolley was expected to take over from Marsh, but following two poor performances in the opening tour games of the 1984 tour of the West Indies, the selectors handed the gloves to Phillips and batted him at No.7.

He top scored in the second innings with 76. In the second Test Phillips opened and kept wickets but failed with scores of 4 and 0.

In the third Test he made 120, batting at No.8. Woolley kept in the fourth Test with Phillips opening and making 5 and 22. Back keeping in the fifth Test and opening, Phillips made 12 and 2.

At the time, Peter McFarlane wrote: “Roger Woolley’s tour with the gloves has been as poor as I have seen in this class of cricket. It resulted in Wayne Phillips, a man of talent, being placed in the position of keeping as well as opening the batting.”

In the end, Phillips was replaced as keeper in the Test team for the 1985-86 tour of New Zealand by Tim Zoehrer, leading Mike Coward to write “Phillips, who has been of much criticism and ridicule over the last 12 months… who has been severely depressed at times this season, will privately rejoice at Zoehrer’s promotion”.


Phillips played in all three Tests against New Zealand, only passing 50 once. They were his last three Test matches.

There is little doubt that the wicketkeeping duties thrust upon Wayne Phillips were counter-productive to his batting talent and performances.

Peter Handscomb has been selected as a top-order batsman for Australia and has been outstanding so far. Don’t mess with that.

Many argue, as with Woolley, that Matthew Wade is not the answer. Others suggest that the best keeper in the land is Peter Nevill.

There is the answer. Pick the best keeper for the job, particularly as the next tour is to India. Leave Handscomb to bat.