PETER HANDSCOMB met his new Yorkshire team-mates for the first time at the club’s media day yesterday sporting a smile as big as Melbourne Cricket Ground.
If first impressions count for anything, the Victorian will fit in perfectly at Headingley, where he is the overseas player for the coming season.
“I’ve only been here a couple of hours, but the lads have gotten around me and the banter’s been good,” said the Australian batsman.
“I think it’s going to be a great time and there’s clearly a very good spirit within the squad.
“I’m just really excited to play for Yorkshire; they’re obviously a very strong county historically and, looking at the squad now, it’s an incredibly strong squad as well.
“It’s really exciting to come into a team like that with the potential and definitely the thoughts of winning the Championship, along with the one-dayers and the T20, too.”
If enthusiasm is any guarantee of success, then Handscomb can already be inked in for 1,000-plus runs.
He exuded eagerness as he looked ahead to the new campaign and to helping Yorkshire hit the silverware trail.
Handscomb’s positive attitude can only be infectious and comes after a prolific winter in Australian colours.
He made his Test debut against South Africa at Adelaide in November and, after four Tests, his average stood at 99 – a figure immortalised by another Australian in the form of the legendary Don Bradman.
“Yes, that was interesting,” laughed Handscomb, who hit two centuries and two fifties in those first four games.
“After four Tests at home, my average was good, but I was very lucky in that I got to debut in my home conditions, so I understood them and knew that my game would stand up.
“I knew that if I backed my game plan that I’d be able to make runs in those conditions, and that does mean a lot when you’re making your debut.
“It was a lot tougher going over to India subsequently and playing in those conditions, and the average has well and truly dropped since then.”
Handscomb’s average has dropped only in the sense that it has gone from phenomenal to excellent, now standing at 54 after eight Tests.
The 25-year-old managed only one half-century in the recent India series, but he got a start in most innings and has been in excellent form for quite a while.
“I’ve been feeling good for the last couple of years, making runs for Victoria,” he added.
“It was just great to get that opportunity at the next level to show that I could do it there as well, so I’ve come here with a lot of confidence.
“I have played a bit in England, but not a great deal, but this is a great county to come to because of the talent that is here.
“I really feel that I can learn from the boys and take it from there.”
Handscomb, who will make his debut in tomorrow’s opening County Championship game against Hampshire at Headingley, played for Gloucestershire in 2015.
He hit 401 runs in six Championship matches at 44, a respectable effort as he adjusted to the unfamiliar nature of English pitches.
Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, shining not only at international level, but also in the colours of Victoria.
His career-best 215 for them in a Sheffield Shield game last season helped to win him his Test call-up.
“Hopefully, I can adapt quickly to the conditions in England,” he said. “But cricket can be a fickle game, so I’m certainly not taking anything for granted.
“I’m just looking forward to getting out there and scoring some runs.
“Wherever Yorkshire want me to bat, I’m happy to go.”
Handscomb, who arrived in England on Tuesday after a whistle-stop trip home after the India series, is also useful with the wicketkeeping gloves. It remains to be seen whether Yorkshire utilise him in that regard, but he intends to keep his hand in, so to speak.
“I’ll definitely be keeping in touch with it (my wicketkeeping),” he said. “I’ll be putting on the gloves every now and then in training just to make sure that my standards are fine, just in case anything does happen.”