YORKSHIRE are playing the waiting game before deciding whether to try to sign a temporary replacement for overseas batsman Peter Handscomb.
The Australian could be called into his country’s squad for the Champions Trophy in England in June, having made a surprise one-day international debut last week.
However, Yorkshire will not draw up a plan B before they have gained an indication from Cricket Australia as to whether Handscomb is likely to be wanted for that tournament.
The club hope to get a steer after Thursday’s fifth and final one-day international between Australia and Pakistan in Adelaide and will then consider contingency arrangements if necessary.
“We’re waiting until the ODI series against Pakistan has finished and then we’re going to try and get some kind of indication from Cricket Australia as to what they’re planning for Peter over the next nine months,” said Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket.
“We’re in a little bit of limbo at the minute, but, after the one-day series, we’ll try to find out what the availability will be like and take it from there.
“We knew that Peter would possibly be unavailable in August due to Australia’s proposed tour to Bangladesh, but we weren’t counting on him potentially being in the Champions Trophy squad as he had not played a one-day international when we signed him.
“He’s still coming to Yorkshire; it’s just a question of finding out how long for.”
Yorkshire have a strong relationship with Cricket Australia.
Darren Lehmann, the former Yorkshire batsman, is coach of the national side, while ties were further strengthened during Jason Gillespie’s time at the Headingley helm.
“I’d like to think with our relationship, and with Darren Lehmann, that Australia will give us the best indication they possibly can,” added Moxon.
“I’m sure they will help us as much as possible.”
If Handscomb is chosen for the Champions Trophy, he could miss around a month of action – depending on training camps, and so on.
The situation is up in the air but, even if he is selected for that competition, he should still be available for a sizeable chunk of the English campaign.
The 25-year-old made his one-day international debut against Pakistan in Perth five days ago after injuries to Chris Lynn and Mitch Marsh.
He responded with 82 in a seven-wicket win, although he did not bat in Australia’s victory in the fourth ODI in Sydney on Sunday.
Asked whether Yorkshire would consider trying to recruit a replacement to cover any absence, Moxon said: “Until we know what the dates are with Peter, it’s difficult to say.
“We’ll look at it once we know what the availability is.
“At the minute, we’re just guessing in that respect.
“We’ll wait and see how the situation unfolds.”
Handscomb’s international career has taken off in the last two months.
He made his Test debut against South Africa in Adelaide on November 24, scoring 54 and one not out.
The right-hander hit 105 and 35 not out in the next Test in Brisbane, 54 in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, and then 110 and 40 not out in the New Year Test in Sydney.
It leaves his Test average standing at a Bradman-esque 99.75 to go with the ODI average of 82.
“Peter is doing too well, unfortunately,” quipped Moxon.
“No, in all seriousness, it’s great for him and great to see him doing so well.
“It does potentially limit the time that he’s available for us, but, as I say, we’ll have to wait and see.
“This sort of thing is always the case with overseas players in this day and age; it’s hard to get good players now for any length of time.”
Handscomb, who hails from Melbourne, plays for Victoria and is one of the rising stars of the international game.
He has previous experience of county cricket, having played for Gloucestershire in 2015, and Yorkshire have signed a man at the top of his game.
The club had been keeping tabs on him for some time, both in domestic and overseas action.
As a wicketkeeper too, he offers additional back-up when Jonny Bairstow is on England duty.
Asked what attracted Yorkshire to Handscomb, Moxon said: “Just his ability. We spoke to a couple of people in Australia about him, while Rich Pyrah (one of the Yorkshire coaches) had seen him when he was out in Australia for the Big Bash last year.
“Peter has played a bit for Gloucester as well, so we certainly knew he could play.
“We just feel that he has all the qualities to do well and to fit into our group.”