Victoria’s Peter Handscomb has put himself in the box seat for a baggy green in Adelaide as a Queensland bolter stood tall amid a rolling series of Test auditions across the country.
With suggestions of a broom being put through the Test side ahead of the pink-ball clash with South Africa, rarely has there been a more pivotal round of modern Sheffield Shield cricket, with as many as six of the Hobart XI on the chopping block.
Selectors fanned out to stations at the SCG (Mark Waugh), the Gabba (Greg Chappell) and Perth (Trevor Hohns with an opening spot, middle-order bats, a spinner, wicketkeeper and a fast bowler all on the potential wish list ahead of what could be a dramatic rebuild.
Victoria batted first against the Blues at the SCG and Handscomb, a former keeper now focusing on his batting, was one of the key contenders. The 25-year-old has long been regarded as a future Test player, but the consistent failures of the current crop have potentially fast-tracked his ride to the top.
The classy right-hander didn’t disappoint, cashing in on a batting-friendly wicket to score the most timely of centuries, although he rode his luck on occasions as he was dropped twice by Trent Copeland on 14 and 77.
Handscomb finished the day on 110 not out (193 balls) after notching his ninth first-class century with a statement innings that should make him a straight middle-order swap for Adam Voges, who was concussed in the shield match against Tasmania at the WACA.
“I have been lucky enough to make a hundred in front of [Mark Waugh] before so hopefully he’s watched a little bit now,” Handscomb said. “It’s a nice day to come out and make a few runs.
“I’m trying not to think about it [the Test] to be perfectly honest. My job in these next four days is to win the game for Victoria and if anything else comes out of that then happy days.”
The Vics threw up another potential debutant as opener Travis Dean rekindled the kind of form that saw him score a century in both innings of his shield debut in October 2015.
The 24-year-old has mixed his form since then but couldn’t have produced at a better time, playing a patient knock that saw him end the day unbeaten on 134 (274 balls), as incumbent Joe Burns fell for just four in Brisbane with another edge down the leg side.
But while one Queensland opener failed to produce against South Australia, another rose to the occasion. Matt Renshaw, just 20, scored his third century in 12 first-class matches to enter the conversation in his first game back from a knee injury.
Renshaw, a hulking figure who presents like the second coming of Matt Hayden, took some 78 balls to get to double figures before taking the long handle to Redbacks spinner Adam Zampa, belting him for four sixes on the way to 108 (202).
It would be a gamble to thrust him into the Test arena but Renshaw has serious admirers in Australian cricket, who regard him as a rare talent with the ability and temperament to bat for long stretches.
And like Handscomb and NSW batsman Kurtis Patterson, another strong middle-order contender, Renshaw has form for Australia A, making 25 and 94 against South Africa A earlier this year in a tour game in Brisbane.
If youth is a concern, selectors need only to look to England’s current rising star Haseeb Hameed, who is just 19 and at the top of the order with captain Alistair Cook.
“It was good to have my first game back,” Renshaw said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it [potential selection], I was just trying to score some runs. But every time you go out, you want to score runs.”
Other shield performances served up a mixed bag for selectors. Usman Khawaja produced a fluent 106 (137 balls) in Brisbane to ensure his spot wasn’t up for discussion, while Chadd Sayers failed to break through with the new ball and only toiled away for the Redbacks.
Incumbent spinner Nathan Lyon failed to claim a scalp for NSW, returning 0-88 off 27 overs as the Victorians ended day one on 2-292. Steve O’Keefe fared slightly better with 1-65, while Ashton Agar didn’t play in Perth due to a calf injury.
At the WACA, opener Cameron Bancroft was dismissed for two, a doubly disappointing innings given two of his rivals soared into three figures. Pace hopeful Jackson Bird struck early to remove danger man Michael Klinger.
The Test squad will be named on Sunday, with selectors still to run the rule over candidates like South Australia’s Travis Head and Victorian spinner Jon Holland in coming days.
with Chris Barrett
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.