Peter Handscomb during the Australian cricket team training session at the WACA in Perth, Wednesday, December 12, 2018. Australia are preparing for the second Test match against India at Perth Stadium on Friday. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Peter Handscomb during the Australian cricket team training session at the WACA in Perth, Wednesday, December 12, 2018. Australia are preparing for the second Test match against India at Perth Stadium on Friday. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

How Handscomb can cover his weak spot

The cover drive is cricket's most photogenic shot - but do you really need one?

If it doesn't happen naturally, is it more trouble than it's worth?

This is one of the dilemmas facing Test batsman Peter Handscomb as he tinkers with his homespun technique in his second coming as a Test player.

Coach Justin Langer spent a good deal of time in the Perth nets on Wednesday in a one-on-one session with Handscomb and when they got together for a chat both of them at times played cover drives and off-side defensive strokes at invisible balls.

At one point they placed a glove, then a ball in the nets where a perfectly hit cover drive or a strong forward defence would go.

It seemed at least part of a discussion of weight transferral to the front foot and Handscomb even hit a few sweet drives for good measure.

Because Handscomb is famously a backfoot player whose back foot is placed not far from his stumps, the billowing front-foot cover drive is obviously not his favourite stroke.

When Australia's high performance coaches sat down with Handscomb during the off-season, they discussed the fact that the cover drive had somehow vanished from his game against fast bowlers.

You may think that given the gravitas of the stroke Handscomb should do all he can to perfect it, but there are celebrated examples of players surviving without it.

Sachin Tendulkar scored a famous double century against Australia in Sydney after ditching the stroke altogether because he considered it too risky.

England captain Alastair Cook gave the shot away in 2010 because it kept triggering his demise.

Dean Jones, who admits he was not much of a cover driver, once went to the Gabba in the mid-1990s for Victoria and noticed a tape saying "Victorian batsmen'' sitting beside the nets.

Knowing the tape was prepared by Queensland coach John Buchanan, Jones secretly took it back to his hotel room and looked at it - he was roused when it showed him playing a series of cover drives gone wrong.

Jones was embarrassed because his soft spot had been laid bare in an era of limited video analysis when batsmen's weaknesses were rarely spoken about, making them a far more sensitive topic than they are today.

The next day he made a contemptuous century, refusing to play at any ball outside off stump, proving that in the subtle art of batting, the shots you don't play are often as important as the ones you do.

News Corp Australia


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