Handscomb 'gone in the head’, says Slater
MICHAEL Slater says Peter Handscomb should be dropped because he is "gone in the head".
It comes as the former Aussie Test opener exposed the naive logic selectors are reportedly using to axe the Victorian batsman in favour of re-called allrounder Mitchell Marsh.
Slater on Tuesday said Handscomb has let public criticism of his unusual technique eat away at him since the start of the Ashes series.
The 26-year-old survived a key final hour of play while facing James Anderson under lights in Adelaide, but looked all over the place against the moving ball.
His limited returns of 14, 36 and 12 have been highly publicised because of the awkwardness of his unique technique, leading to reports selectors are set to make the tough call to drop him for the Third Test in Perth, beginning Thursday.
Slater said it's the right move simply because Handscomb is out of form and the No. 5 batsman's problem's are too significant for him to try and correct them on the run in the middle of an Ashes series.
"My personal feeling is that he's gone in the head," Slater told Sky Sports Radio.
"All the pulling apart of his technique is valid in the commentary box and they're doing the same on the radio, it all gets back to the player.
"They can't avoid it. If they don't hear it their mum or dad or their brother or sister hears it or they're friend says, 'Gee they're ripping into you, I don't know why mate, you've had a couple of bad innings'. And he says, 'It doesn't bother me'. But it's in his head and as soon as you doubt yourself, and I think he's doubting himself, then that's enough for me. They've got the form player (Marsh) there."
It comes after Aussie legend Shane Warne also called for Handscomb to be dropped in order to work on his fundamental flaws.
He said the factor that compounds Handscomb's predicament is that he will not get an opportunity to try and experiment with alterations to his technique at the crease until February, when the Sheffield Shield season resumes after the Big Bash.
He said the simple change Handscomb can make immediately to try and save his Test position is to not bat so deep in his crease where he is more susceptible to English bowlers attacking his stumps and trapping him in front.
"It's whether they think he is gone in the head, Handscomb," Slater said.
"If that is the case it's all about the demeanour and his demeanour on the field in Adelaide was one of getting in the face of the Poms and sledging and having a crack, which only indicated to me that he's struggling.
"That was his way of saying, 'I'm on top of it. I'm going to give as good as I got'. That's a sign that there is something going on. If he is doubting his technique and I don't know that he'd be saying that to anyone, then I would replace him, but a winning side is a winning side.
"There are people watching at home seeing what is going on with his technique and how strange it is. The advice you give him is, 'If you don't want to change anything, move from being so far back to having your back foot on the popping crease and then straight away you're eliminating the chance of the LBW'.
"As vulnerable as you are when you're sitting so far back, that would be the only thing. It's very hard to change technique halfway through a season. It's very hard to change technically when you're the age that you are and it's all sort of muscle memory and everything, but he has to. I believe he has to if he wants a long term future."
Despite his belief Australia is better off returning to Marsh at the Waca, Slater also rubbished the logic Aussie selectors are reportedly using to make a decision between Marsh and Handscomb.
A lifeless Waca deck is expected to increase the workload on Australia's pace attack in Perth, however, early reports suggest the green-top wicket could show some traditional bounce and carry not seen at the iconic fast-bowling venue in many years.
Aussie coach Darren Lehmann has said the call between Handscomb and Marsh will be decided by the pitch.
Slater said a deck that shows more bounce than recent Tests in Perth would actually play to Handscomb's strengths where he feels most comfortable playing off his back foot.
"They're saying it'll come down to the pitch conditions," he said.
"We know what we get over there. We get a flat deck and we'll see hundred after hundred.
"Forget this theory that it's quick and bouncy. That went 15 years ago. But if it is bouncing a little bit, let's just say that it has a little bit of carry there, then it actually suits Handscomb because he plays off the back foot and that's his favourite shot.
"He's still going to be able to bang them on the off side off the back foot. I think it suits his game, yet they're saying if it does have carry then Mitchell Marsh is the man. I don't quite understand why there is this sort of talk because Handscomb is going to be better suited to a pitch that carries."