Cricket News: Handscomb recall in doubt, Maxwell teaches himself to walk again, Strikers down Renegades #sports


Peter Handscomb’s Test lifeline has been placed in doubt with the Victorian set for scans on his hip after copping a blow in a club game.

Handscomb was hit attempting to play a pull shot in the Victorian Super Slam on Tuesday night, before collapsing as he hit a six from a similar shot three balls later.

The 31-year-old retired hurt and, while officials are hopeful the injury is bruising and not a fracture, he was due for scans on Thursday. National selection chief George Bailey said they were confident it would not be a serious injury.

Any injury would be a brutal blow to Handscomb who has not played for Australia since January 2019.

A star of the future when he averaged 99.75 through his first Tests in 2016-17, Handscomb was dropped twice during the 2018-19 summer.

During that time he has regularly insisted his Test career should not be considered over, as he argued he was far from his prime as a batsman.

Handscomb has since scored 571 runs at an average of 81.57 in this summer’s Sheffield Shield, as he mounted his case for selection.

Peter Handscomb of Australia

Peter Handscomb. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

“Peter Handscomb deserves his place back in the squad,” chief selector George Bailey said. “His domestic form has been strong recently and Pete has proven he can perform at Test level. His experience against spin on the subcontinent is valuable and he is also an exceptionally good close-to-the-wicket catcher.”

The 31-year-old could come into calculations for the first Test in Nagpur on February 9 to bat at No.6 if Cameron Green does not recover from a broken finger.

Matthew Renshaw earned that spot at the SCG last week, but Australia’s desire to break up a run of left-handers in the middle order could aid Handscomb’s course.

The main concern would be that David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Alex Carey already make for four left-handers in Australia’s top seven, with India’s offspinners to turn the ball away from them.

Otherwise, Handscomb may have to wait for another injury or to see if selectors stick with Head throughout the series. The swashbuckling South Australian had a brilliant home summer, but struggled for runs on last year’s two tours of the subcontinent in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“He’s a huge chance over in India,” captain Pat Cummins said of Handscomb. “He has played really well over in Bangladesh. In India he has been there before. Even in white-ball (cricket) he has done really well there. Earned the right by scoring lots of runs in Shield cricket. It’s always nice having a right-hander as well, we have plenty of left-handers, just as a different option.”

Maxwell reveals painful rehab

Glenn Maxwell hasn’t ruled out his dream of playing in Australia’s upcoming Test tour of India after a broken leg initially had him dreading his career was over.

Speaking as a guest commentator in Fox’s coverage of Tuesday night’s BBL match between the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades, Maxwell revealed the prospect of touring India has been the primary motivation during his rehabilitation.

Maxwell, a global short-form superstar and Melbourne Stars mainstay, has been sidelined since November when he shattered his left fibula in a freak accident at a friend’s 50th birthday party.

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“The Test tour of India coming up, I was super motivated to get myself ready for that,” he said. “Whether or not I’m on that (tour), only time will tell. But I’ve done everything in my power to try to get ready for it and get myself back playing. There’s still a fair way to go.”

Maxwell played the last of his seven Tests in 2017 and hasn’t played a first-class fixture since 2019, but was added to Australia’s red-ball squad that toured Sri Lanka last winter.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 04: Glenn Maxwell of Australia and Rahmanullah Gurbaz of Afghanistan during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between Australia and Afghanistan at Adelaide Oval on November 04, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

(Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

Maxwell posted his sole Test century in Ranchi during Australia’s 2017 Indian tour and is highly regarded for his allround prowess in subcontinental conditions.

A Test recall would cap a stunning comeback for the 34-year-old, who has been using an ice compression machine for up to four hours every night on his injured leg.

“I did think that I might not play cricket again,” said Maxwell, who aims to be back playing club cricket for Fitzroy Doncaster after the BBL’s conclusion. “There were those thoughts while I was in hospital.  

“I had to teach myself how to walk, which was pretty bizarre because the actual joint was so swollen and tight that it was like having two blocks of wood nailed together. 

“There was no movement or flexion at all. As soon as I could start to walk and move a little bit, every day was making progress. Every day it was getting better and better.”

Lynn stars as Adelaide strike down Gades

Adelaide Strikers’ joy at a convincing 20-run victory over the Melbourne Renegades has been dampened by a hamstring injury suffered by Colin de Grandhomme.

The Kiwi allrounder was injured running between wickets with batting hero Chris Lynn, who was also laid low. Lynn suffered fatigue, wilting in the summer heat as he peeled off his third successive BBL half-century.

Despite neither man being able to field the Strikers were able to defend their imposing 4-202 on Tuesday night, restricting the Renegades to 6-182 at Adelaide Oval. 

The result meant the Strikers leapfrog the Renegades and Sydney Thunder into third spot on the ladder.

The extent of de Grandhomme’s injury is unknown but Strikers are at Melbourne Stars on Thursday before hosting Brisbane Heat on Saturday.

For ‘Gades wicketkeeper Sam Harper top-scored with 63, while Englishman Matt Critchley (33no) and Will Sutherland (31) provided some fireworks at the death.

But the visitors were always a long way behind the eight-ball, unable to capitalise on de Grandhomme’s absence which deprived Adelaide of a sixth bowling option.

Openers Marcus Harris (eight) and Martin Guptill (14) fell to skied catches before captain Aaron Finch (two) was trapped plumb lbw to offspinner Ben Manenti to have the ‘Gades reeling.

Harper, coming off a career-best 89 against the Hobart Hurricanes, succumbed attempting to slog-sweep his third six from Manenti’s third over.

Sutherland was reprieved twice early, Ryan Gibson and substitute Henry Hunt grassing sitters, and duly slammed 20 and 16 off back-to-back overs of spin from Manenti and Cam Boyce.

It was game over when Sutherland departed in the 19th over to Wes Agar who was the pick of the bowlers along with acting captain Matt Short (both 2-26).

“For me, there comes a time in your career when you stop being the kid and you start being more of a senior head,” Agar said of being entrusted with the pivotal 19th over.

“With Sidsy (Peter Siddle) out, the boys needed someone to take that role on and I find a lot of confidence in that.

“I’m glad I got given the ball tonight and was able to execute.”

Earlier, Lynn extended his advantage atop the BBL runscoring leaderboard and put the Strikers firmly in control.

Lynn (69no off 37 balls) was well supported by in-form Short (38) and imports Adam Hose (33) and de Grandhomme (32).

Sri Lankan leggie Ruwantha Kellapotha (2-32) impressed in his first outing, but fellow wrist-spinning debutant Critchley conceded 19 from his sole, nervy over.

Kane Richardson, after shaking off a side strain scare, was thumped by de Grandhomme for a four-ball sequence of 4, 6, 6, 6 and finished with the sorry figures of 1-62.

“At the innings break I reckon it was about par and I certainly thought we could chase it down,” Sutherland said.

“Obviously, it got away from us a bit.”

Ashes warning? Archer’s back, with wickets

Four overs is a very small sample size, but when it is Jofa Archer bowling them English cricket is very keen to read a lot into them, even the return of the Ashes.

That might seem an exaggeration, but there was no denying the excitement as the fast bowler returned to action at Newlands on Tuesday after 541 days on the sidelines with a three-wicket haul. 

Test skipper Ben Stokes summed up the enthusiasm when he tweeted: ‘BUZZING BUZZING BUZZING to see @JofraArcher back on the field’.

The new South African T20 league is a very different scenario from the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston in six months time. That his England teammate Jos Buttler ramped Archer for a boundary underlined that.

But it is a start, and having not played a senior match since taking 0-20 off three overs in a T20 for his county, Sussex, in July 2021, that Archer is finally bowling again is highly encouraging for England.

“England have been excellent in the last 12 months, but add Jofra Archer in and it leads to exciting times. What we saw in his first over was, ‘wow, he’s back’,” former England seamer Darren Gough, who once took an Ashes hat-trick at the SCG, said.

Since Archer’s last match, he has undergone two elbow operations and suffered a stress fracture of the back.

His rehabilitation stepped up with a practice outing for England Lions in November but this was his first competitive outing, for Mumbai Indians Cape Town against Paarl Royals.

The 27-year-old’s first over was a wicket maiden, Wihan Lubbe caught at mid-off off. His second, thanks to Buttler, went for 13.

Returning at the death Archer bowled two more overs dismissing David Miller and, with a slower ball, Ferisco Adams.

“Amazing, amazing. After having that long gap that comeback is absolutely delightful to watch,” MI Cape Town captain Rashid Khan said.

“It’s so great, he’s back in full rhythm. It was super great to watch, especially being on the field with him and not against him.”

Archer is expected to play one more match for Cape Town before joining up with Buttler’s ODI side for a three-match series against South Africa later this month.

England will manage his workload carefully with this year’s Ashes very much the target.

With 42 wickets at 31 apiece Archer’s Test record isn’t, in truth, that impressive. But the effect his raw pace has belies those numbers.

With five Tests in less than seven weeks England clearly would not risk Archer playing them all, but if they can rotate him and the equally rapid Mark Wood they could have real pace option in each Test.

Further encouragement for England was provided in the same match by Olly Stone, another quick capable of bowling at 145km/h who has suffered back injury. Stone, who will join Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Matthew Potts and Ollie Robinson on next month’s tour of New Zealand, clean bowled Dane Vilas and Buttler as he collected 2-31 in the eight-wicket win.

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