The Australia batsman was front and centre in the first Test at Brisbane as the hosts piled the ‘sledges’ into Bairstow - largely on the subject of his ‘head-butt’ greeting for debutant opener Cameron Bancroft, when they first met in a Perth bar last month.
Handscomb counts the England wicketkeeper as a friend, after playing with him for Yorkshire last summer, and hopes they can pick up where they left off if he ever turns out for the White Rose again.
But as Australia bid to go 2-0 up in this week’s inaugural day-night Ashes Test, after their 10-wicket win at the Gabba, Handscomb is not about to relent.
Asked if all sledging is ‘fair game’ in the name of the Ashes, Handscomb said: “On the field, yeah. You play against each other. I’m not trying to make him feel good about himself – that’s not my job.
“When I played with him at Yorkshire we had a great time together, and I really like Jonny. We got along really, really well. But it’s a different ball game now.”
Handscomb does not expect any long-term hard feelings.
“If I ever go back to Yorkshire, I dare say we’ll hang out and have a good time and it’ll be perfectly fine,” he added. “But during the Ashes, mate, it’s about winning the game for Australia first and foremost.”
He rates Australia’s verbals in Brisbane as high quality too.
“As far as sledging goes, it was probably some of the smartest stuff we’ve ever come up with,” he said. “Generally the Aussie way is (just) pretty brutal. It’s something that’s part of the game - always has been, always will be.
“So if there’s a moment where we can exploit someone’s mental capabilities then yes, we’re going to go about it.”
They will be selective, and may decide to change their subject matter for Bairstow and others at the Adelaide Oval.
“There are moments you pick and choose, and obviously the right words,” said Handscomb. “There is a line - we just have to make sure we don’t cross it. We can try and look for some new ‘ammo’ - we can try and use it.
“It’s generally good bowling or good catching gets guys out. But if you can get that one per cent edge over an opposition you’d be silly not to.”