Peter Handscomb signs deal with Leicestershire ahead of WTC final, Ashes

Leicestershire [UK], March 21 (ANI): Australian batter Peter Handscomb has signed a deal with Leicestershire, presenting himself an opportunity to press his case for inclusion in national senior squads for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship final against India and the Ashes series, reported ESPNCricinfo on Tuesday.

The deal will see him play for the county for the first two months of the County Championship, which will start from April 6 onwards.
Handscomb missed out on a spot in Ashes back in 2019 and earned a recall after four years in a longer format during the recently-concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India. In this series, he made 145 runs at an average of 29.00, including one fifty.

He has pulled out of Australia A’s upcoming tour to New Zealand and will be travelling to UK after playing for Victoria this week in the final of Sheffield Shield. He has previously represented Durham, Gloucestershire, Middlesex (as captain) and Yorkshire in county cricket.

The batter will be filling in for Ajinkya Rahane and will be available for the first six rounds of the Championship. Rahane’s Indian Premier League (IPL) commitments with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will keep him busy till early June. Rahane will play both four-day and 50-over-cricket in the second half of the season.

Leicestershire had previously agreed to deal with Pakistan opener Abdullah Shafique to fill up for Rahane, but the batters’ likely selection for the white-ball series against New Zealand meant he became unavailable, hours before his contract was due to be announced by the county.

Cricket Australia confirmed that Caleb Jewell, a left-handed Tasmania batter, would be Handscomb’s replacement in Australia A squad on Tuesday.

“Players with upcoming County Cricket deals were not considered for Australia A selection as they will already be subject to English conditions prior to the Ashes,” a CA spokesperson confirmed.

Cameron Bancroft and Todd Murphy have also lined up county deals, which are yet to be announced. The deals are understood to be with Yorkshire and Durham respectively. A number of Aussie players will use county cricket to get used to English conditions ahead of their six Tests in the country this summer.

Some of the players include Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan) and Steve Smith (Sussex). Many cricket pundits have questioned why English counties are willing to give red-ball deals to Australian players ahead of the Ashes series.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is unconcerned but desires that more English players get deals outside during the off-season.

“I would love to get more of our players in first-class cricket overseas,” Mo Bobat, the ECB’s performance director, said earlier this year.