Emerging batting star Peter Handscomb has declared he is ready to embrace the spotlight of a home Melbourne Test and has hit back at claims Pakistan’s late resistance in Brisbane had put fear into the ns.
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Having celebrated their 39-run win in what ultimately was a great escape at the Gabba, Handscomb and his Test teammates returned to their home ports on Tuesday, and will resume training as a squad at the MCG on Friday ahead of the Boxing Day Test.

This will be Handscomb’s maiden appearance on the biggest cricketing day of the summer, and he will pad up in superb form after his composed 105, including 10 boundaries and a six, in ‘s first innings in Brisbane.

“Obviously, it has given me a lot of confidence. I don’t think there is going to be a stage where you feel like you belong in such high-standard cricket, but it’s great to go out there now with confidence, knowing that I can make runs and just go from there and keep backing my own processes,” he said.

But recent history suggests he faces a tough task repeating such a knock in his home Test, for former fellow Victorian-born stars Dean Jones, Brad Hodge and Matthew Elliott struggled in the marquee fixture.

Jones had six Tests at the MCG but managed only two half-centuries, averaging just 25.1 in 10 innings. Hodge made seven and 24 in his only Boxing Day Test, against South Africa in 2005, while Elliott was also unable to produce the big score he would have craved, finishing with six and one in his only MCG Test, against the Proteas in 1997.

However, former n captain Graham Yallop averaged 69.16 in four Tests at the MCG, including thumping 268 against Pakistan in 1983.

Handscomb has attended the Melbourne spectacle as a spectator and, in what will only be his third Test, can expect a raucous response when he walks out into the middle.

“I have been to the Boxing Day Test before but, obviously, not in this capacity. I have seen guys walk out, I have heard the cheer before, I have been part of that cheer. I think it’s going to be great to actually be there, walking out and, hopefully, just embrace the moment that is going to come,” he said.

“I will be trying to think of my batting process and making sure that my game is ready to go. I will take a moment to enjoy, hopefully, that walk out there but once we are in the middle, it’s game on and you have got to be switched on.”

Handscomb’s old-school technique, where he stands deep in his crease and prefers to play off the back foot to the fast bowlers, has stood up well so far, while his willingness to bound on to the front foot and pounce like a cat when the spinners are introduced makes him an all-round threat.

He hopes the drop-in MCG deck does not have as much bounce as he encountered through the Sheffield Shield this season.

“I am hoping the pitch is going to be a bit flatter than the shield wicket which would be even better. That will be great,” he said.

“Like I said, I have the confidence coming into this game which is awesome for me but also awesome for the team because we are coming off a few wins now, especially with the one-day series. We have the momentum coming into this game, so we are coming in hot and with a lot of confidence.”

Pakistan fast-bowling great Waqar Younis said the tourists had “put the fear into the Aussies’ minds” after their second-innings fightback in Brisbane, but Handscomb disagreed, insisting the hosts were ready to claim the series.

“We are winning games. We won the last Test against South Africa, we have won this Test and the boys won the one-day series (against New Zealand) quite convincingly. I wouldn’t say there is any fear in our minds at all – we are going out looking to win and we are confident we are going to do it,” he said.

The ns added West n allrounder Hilton Cartwright to their squad on Tuesday to provide greater bowling depth after Mitch Starc and Josh Hazlewood had a heavy workload in Brisbane, each bowling 56 overs.

Cartwright, who was selected in the one-day squad earlier this month, would almost certainly replace struggling batsman Nic Maddinson in the XI.

Maddinson has failed in his two Test matches, the latest in Brisbane with one run in the first innings and just four from three balls in the second when the hosts were chasing quick runs.

“It’s not he is out of form at all. He is hitting ’em unbelievably well in the nets and, if he gets his opportunity in the Boxing Day Test, I see no reason why he won’t be making plenty of runs,” Handscomb said.

Cartwright has taken only 14 wickets at 42.50 in 14 Sheffield Shield matches but his batting has improved in the past year, thumping a century for A against India A in September.

Mitch Marsh had been the all-rounder for 19 Tests but was dumped after the loss to South Africa in Perth, predominantly because of his poor batting.