Peter Handscomb. Getty Images
Peter Handscomb has washed his hands off any involvement the sandpaper sagathat rocked Australian cricket in March this year. He claimed that the video was edited in a way to show that he had relayed Darren Lehmann's instructions to Cameron Bancroft after which the latter hid the sandpaper during the Test series against South Africa.
As per the video that did the rounds on social media and news channels, the Australian opener was spotted rubbing the sandpaper against the ball, and on spotting that head coach Lehmann instructed something to Peter Handscomb over the walkie-talkie. Cut to the next shot, Handscomb was seen having a laugh with Bancroft in the middle, following which the latter hid the yellow object inside his pants. Handscomb claims the two shots shown of him were with a time gap of almost 20 minutes.
Coming public on the issue for the first time, Handscomb said, "I love that footage because it's actually amazing how much the media edited it. So, it shows me on the walkie-talkie then running out and talking to Cam (Bancroft). What happened, I am on the walkie-talkie. Twenty minutes, 25 minutes later, a player comes off because they need to go to the bathroom. I am next to it so that's why I come on."
He had a green vest on, indicating his role as a substitute, in the first visual, while that was off in the second. The visuals of Bancroft putting the sandpaper inside his pants came at the end of the his conversation with Bancroft, as per the video. However, the incident had happened earlier when the umpires had questioned him on noticing him tamper with the ball on the big screen.
"I get put into a catching position next to Cam because we are both short catches... we are front of the wicket catchers or in slips together," he added. "That's why I was there, literally just trying to have a joke with him. There was nothing else. All this build-up about me trying to do something there, it wasn't there."
However, he confirmed that Lehmann had indeed had asked him over the walkie-talkie as to what was going on in the middle.
"I haven't been dragged into it [the scandal] that much. If I was, I am basically off a lot of social media now anyway. I didn't read it and I didn't hear it."
With Steve Smith and David Warner getting suspended for a year, and a nine-month ban on Bancroft, Handscomb has managed to find a place in the Playing XI. He may have become a beneficiary of the incident but he isn't too pleased with the way he got his opportunity.
"It was a bit of a shame to come back into the Test side under those circumstances - I had really wanted to get back in through sheer work and put numbers on the board and make sure I was doing all the right things," he said.
"Sometimes it's right place, right time, and I have to try and take that opportunity."
Handscomb did get to make a comeback but couldn't make his opportunity count. However, he will get another chance when he tours India with Australia A, who are scheduled to play a couple of four-day games, apart from being involved in a 50-over quadrangular series against South Africa A, India A and India B. His last visit to India didn't turn out to be as productive as he would've liked. Struggling against spin, he managed only 198 runs in eight innings.
Handscomb admits that he needs to make an impact in the A tour in order to cement his spot when the side comes for a subcontinent tour against India and Sri Lanka next year, by when the bans on all the three players will be lifted.
"It [national selection] seems to be a bit open slather - you are going into this [A tour], if you make runs you are a massive chance and, if you don't, you haven't taken that opportunity they are trying to give you.I feel like I am a really good player of spin and I hope I will go over there and make runs. I have done that before on the subcontinent, so I hope I can do that again," Handscomb concluded.