What’s the story?
Legendary Australian captain Allan Border has launched a scathing attack on opener Matt Renshaw for retiring ill for a brief period of time in the opening day of the first Test against India at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune.
Despite forming a strong partnership at the top of the order with David Warner, Renshaw was forced to leave the field temporarily following his partner’s dismissal. Later, it was confirmed to be a case of ‘upset stomach’.
Not the one to buy into any excuse, Border attacked the 20-year old’s temperament. “I hope he's (Renshaw) lying on the table in there half dead. Otherwise, as captain, I would not be happy. I don't think I've ever seen that before. He's obviously just got an upset stomach to some degree and he was probably trying to use the situation where David Warner had just been dismissed to race off the ground and go to the toilet”, the iconic southpaw said on Fox Sports.
The 61-year old added, “What happened in the ensuing time there, I can't ever think of a situation like that that's happened before where someone's gone off because they're a bit ill. I can tell you what, if (next man in) Shaun Marsh was dismissed in those last 15 minutes, I would've been ropeable as captain.“
After skipper Steven Smith won the toss on a raging turner, Renshaw got the innings off to a solid start by showing impressive composure for a batsman on his maiden day in India. Upon reaching 36 from 89 balls, he began to feel some issues inside his stomach. When Warner was castled by Umesh Yadav, he decided to leave the field in order to get things sorted. An unsuspecting Shaun Marsh had to hastily put on his gear and scamper into the middle.
The heart of the matter
Marsh put on 37 runs with his captain before Jayant Yadav’s awkward angle proved to be his undoing. Renshaw returned to the field after Peter Handscomb departed for a 45-ball 22. Even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end, he became the youngest Australian batsman to score more than fifty runs in a Test innings on Asian soil.
Eventually, he played at one with hard hands and succumbed to the wiles of Ravichandran Ashwin for a well-compiled 68. Riding on Mitchell Starc’s quick-fire unbeaten fifty, Australia closed the opening day at 256/9. At the end of day press conference, a visibly relieved Renshaw revealed, “It came pretty suddenly. I was struggling a bit then. He (Smith) wasn’t too thrilled about it but he understands that when you need to go to the toilet, you’ve got to go to the toilet. It wasn’t an ideal scenario but it’s life, pretty much.”
Parallels from history
The Yorkshire-born Renshaw plays for Queensland in Australia’s domestic cricket. This episode has some parallels with an interesting historical incident also involving Border. During the famous tied Madras Test of 1986, the then Australian captain refused to entertain Dean Jones’s plea asking to be retired ill due to dehydration from the scorching heat.
However, Border called Jones as a ‘weak Victorian’ on the field and insisted that a ‘tough Queenslander’ was needed for these types of situations. Spurred by his skipper’s sledge, Jones went on to complete his double century.
Credited for almost single-handedly pulling Australian cricket out of the wrenches of the 80s and setting them up for their dominance in the 90s, Border is one of the toughest characters to ever play the game. Ironically, in a tournament partly named after himself, he took aim at Renshaw.
At the end of the day, nature’s call does not spare anyone. More than his decision to leave the field for a brief toilet break, the young opener’s tenacity in playing an impressive innings needs to command attention.