Whenever a coach goes on a great length about the greatness of one of his players, it can bode ill for that player.
Praise is generally delivered in the past tense and often accompanies the revelation that said great player has narrowly missed a benchmark.
For Cricket Australia, those players are Peter Handscomb, who along with Ashton Turner, have been left off the World Cup squad in order to make room for Steve Smith and David Warner.
The omission of Turner was somewhat expected. He did not get a game in the series with Pakistan, despite smashing 84 off 43 balls in the epic chase in Mohali in the fourth ODI with India. The player of the match honour will not salve the wound from being left off for World Cup.
Handscomb was the more deserving. He has been steady at a time when Australia absolutely required some, averaging 43.54 in 13 matches, including his first ton in that same match where Turner walked off with the player of the match cup.
Handscomb also brought skill as a backup wicketkeeper with him.
Australia have yet to decide the order, but the first 15 have been named and despite their names being mud over the past year, Smith and Warner have been welcomed back.
Shaun Marsh was on marshy ground, but he smashed four centuries in his last eight matches. Even at that, he might find himself relegated to the reserves.
Of Handscomb, Coach Justin Langer was effusive about him, telling RSN radio, “Selection is always hard, there’s no doubt about that. It’s the toughest part of the job. It has been for as long as I’ve been coaching but certainly last Tuesday was really tough. Pete is terribly stiff to miss out. He’s all class. I spoke to him yesterday. He’s literally all class. He’s another ripper.”
Australia will have some warmups in Brisbane against the Kiwi backups, with more in England.
Their first World Cup match is with Afghanistan on June 1.