Handscomb signs deal with Leicestershire for County Championship

Australian batter will look to press his case for Test selection ahead of the WTC final and the Ashes

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Peter Handscomb turns on the style, India vs Australia, 3rd Test, Indore, 2nd day, March 2, 2023

Peter Handscomb was recalled to the Test side after a four-year absence for the recent tour of India  •  Getty Images

Peter Handscomb will press his case for inclusion in Australia's squads for the World Test Championship final and the Ashes after signing a deal with Leicestershire to play the first two months of the County Championship season.
Handscomb, who missed out on Ashes selection in 2019, was recalled to the Test side after a four-year absence for Australia's recent tour of India. He made 145 runs at 29.00 across the series, including one half-century.
He has pulled out of Australia A's upcoming tour to New Zealand and will travel to the UK after playing for Victoria in this week's Sheffield Shield final. He has previously played county cricket for Durham, Gloucestershire, Middlesex (as captain) and Yorkshire.
Handscomb will fill in for Ajinkya Rahane, and is likely to be available for the first six rounds of the Championship season. Rahane is not available until early June due to his involvement in the IPL, where he has a INR 50 lakh (£50,000 approx.) contract with Chennai Super Kings, and will play both four-day and 50-over cricket in the second half of the county season.
Leicestershire had previously agreed a deal with Abdullah Shafique, the Pakistan opener, to cover the period while Rahane is unavailable. But his likely selection for their upcoming white-ball series against New Zealand meant he became unavailable, hours before his contract was due to be announced by the club.
Cricket Australia confirmed that Caleb Jewell, the left-handed Tasmania batter, would replace Handscomb in the Australia A squad on Tuesday. "Players with upcoming County Cricket deals were not considered for Australia A selection as they will already be subject to English conditions prior to the Ashes," a CA spokesperson confirmed.
Cameron Bancroft and Todd Murphy have also lined up county deals which are yet to be announced, which are understood to be with Yorkshire and Durham respectively.
A number of Australia players will use the early months of the county season as a chance to acclimatise to English conditions ahead of their six Tests in the country this summer.
Chief among them are Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan) and Steven Smith (Sussex), whose deals have prompted some pundits to question why counties are willing to provide red-ball preparation to England's summer opponents.
The ECB is unconcerned by the situation, but has expressed a desire for more English players to win reciprocal opportunities in the off-season. "I'd love to get more of our players in first-class cricket overseas," Mo Bobat, the ECB's performance director, said earlier this year.
Additional reporting: Alex Malcolm

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98