Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
In the off-season experienced quicks Peter Siddle and Chris Tremain departed to new states while Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell have seen their red-ball chances reduced to zero by Australia duty and the impact of Covid-19 bubbles. Added to that, on the resumption of the competition this week Will Pucovski has been ruled out for the season due to a shoulder injury.
Over the last three days in Sydney, two players with a combined age of 38 played central roles in a tense four-wicket victory on a tricky surface that offered something for the bowlers throughout with Nathan Lyon a considerable danger in the last innings.
Mitch Perry, the 20-year-old seamer, claimed match figures of 5 for 39 which included the scalp of Steven Smith in the first innings (Smith fell to 21-year-old Will Sutherland in the second, although was far from happy with the decision) and then Victoria's run chase was lifted from a rocky 5 for 87 by an unbeaten 38 from 18-year-old Jake Fraser-McGurk who is regarded as one of the most exciting batting talents in Australia.
"Playing against a strong New South Wales team, we've got a few boys who grew up watching these blokes," Handscomb said. "So to come out and have the chance to play against them was one thing and to walk away with the win, it's even better.".
"Mitch, it's only his third Shield game and we had a couple of things for him after his first two, he was a bit pretty, maybe bowled a bit too wide and didn't make the batters play enough.
"For him to turn that around so quickly and ask questions of some of the best batters in the world was just awesome. He's come along in leaps and bounds in a couple of months, I'm pretty excited to see what he's going to do for the rest of the season
"Then obviously Rooster [Fraser-McGurk] at the end there, [he had a] pretty calm head, maybe it helped he was young and didn't have any demons or anything, he just went out and batted the way he batted, he's an exciting talent. I'm pretty pumped to see what he's going to do."
While all teams have had challenges thrown at them this season due to the impacts of the pandemic, that has been more acute for Victoria. They had to do two weeks quarantine in Adelaide, with very limited training, before the hub earlier this season and ahead of this game had to abide by stay-at-home orders having flown into Sydney due to the recent outbreak in Melbourne.
They have now had their next match, also against New South Wales, relocated to Bankstown in Sydney due to border restrictions in Melbourne but Handscomb was more than happy to take the pragmatic view.
"We were quite lucky to play this game," Handscomb said. "With everything that was going on, Covid playing its role in everything, I think we're all pretty aware there are going to be mini-outbreaks and they are going to force border closures and whatnot. So to still be able to have this competition running and moving forward is awesome and a great credit to everyone who did that.
"We love playing at home, we know our conditions pretty well and in a year where we've spent a fair bit of time away from home, it would have been nice to go back. But to keep the competition going and make sure everyone can keep the schedule as planned, we're pretty happy to stay up here. We've got a couple of days off in Bondi so that's not the worst spot in the world either."