Peter Handscomb in action during the second Test against England.
Peter Handscomb in action during the second Test against England.

Struggling Handscomb facing Ashes axe

LAST season he was Peter Perfect, but out of form Australian batsman Peter Handscomb is now suddenly fighting for Ashes survival.

Handscomb averages 47 from his 12 Test matches to date, but he's looking increasingly uncomfortable against Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, prompting commentators to question how he is going to dig himself out of his current hole.

Australia will be hesitant to chop and change their batting line-up mid-series, but the fact there are two all-rounders in Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell in blistering touch puts Handscomb under serious pressure to hold his spot.

Selectors will name a squad for the third Test in Perth immediately after Adelaide, and it's likely an all-rounder will be included in addition to the current 12 as Australia try and guard against fast bowler burnout - especially on a WACA pitch flatter than most.

Marsh is the favourite because of his ability to bowl seam, although Maxwell has a double century this Shield season and was the man called in on standby for the first Test in Brisbane.

Handscomb's unconventional technique has been good enough to net him two Test centuries and average 50 before this series, but evidence this Ashes series suggests he's starting to second-guess his approach.

Peter Handscomb departs after being dismissed by James Anderson.
Peter Handscomb departs after being dismissed by James Anderson.

Former England great Kevin Pietersen says Anderson and Broad have sensed weakness and self-doubt and pounced.

"In Test match cricket you have to fiercely compete against the bowler. Make the bowler think you have everything right, even if you don't," said Pietersen of his Melbourne Stars teammate on Channel Nine.

"You have to make them feel you're in control and you have to get that personality across. In this Test match he hasn't had that ability to get that personality across.

"Broad and Anderson are really targeting him. They knew he wasn't happy with his technique and you can't have that.

"Players can see it. Guys on the field pick it up so quick … you cannot do it."

Former Australian opener Michael Slater says if Handscomb wants to persist with his technique, he has to own it - not to try change tact midway through an innings as he appeared to do in Adelaide.

"He's got to trust it, because it's his. If he's not trusting it, then that's a problem."

Michael Clarke said Handscomb was simply fighting for survival at the moment and was finding it near impossible to score.

Mitch Marsh in action against Victoria.
Mitch Marsh in action against Victoria.

Handscomb has scores of 14, 36 and 12 so far this series and the heat is officially on, with Shaun Marsh nailing his chance at No.6.

In Handscomb's defence, he survived two night sessions in this Test to show he is a tough customer.

Australia will want to keep a winning side together but the fact they're desperate to balance the team out with an all-rounder means they won't be able to carry passengers for long.

With little fast bowling back-up, Australia's No.1 priority this summer to protect the quicks - as reflected by Steve Smith's decision not to enforce the follow-on.

Having a legitimate fifth bowling option would help ease the load.

Glenn Maxwell made 98 against WA.
Glenn Maxwell made 98 against WA.


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