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Renshaw comes to the party and proves his worth yet again.

ANALYST
Feature
466   //    17 Jul 2018, 10:46 IST

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When Matt Renshaw burst out into the International scene, he was seen as a tall and a chirpy individual, if not a husky and a burly one unlike some of Australia's opening batsmen. He was added into the Australian squad following a massive defeat to South Africa, thereby surrendering the series without giving them a tough fight. Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson were two other youngsters who were handed test debuts as a part of the overhaul and some tough decisions were taken by axing Joe Burns, Callum Ferguson, Adam Voges, Peter Nevill and Joe Mennie, not to mention the stepping down of selector Rod Marsh. Matt Renshaw took his position in the slips when the match started where once players like Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke stood.

When Australia came out to bat, Renshaw didn't disappoint. Being at his absolute best and the thing to watch out for in the future was his resilience, especially when he faced one of the best bowling attacks in the world, bowling with the right combination of swing and pace from the outset. Australia earned an emphatic victory after another gritty and resilient innings from Renshaw, which by no means threatened the Australian victory. Australia had succumbed to a 64-2 following a good opening partnership between Renshaw and Warner, preceding a terrible mix-up between Khawaja and Renshaw which led Khawaja back to the pavilion. It was Renshaw's determination and the captain Smith's flair that prevented a potential free-fall for Australia.

Matt Renshaw was given his first call to the Test team at the age of 20 after a limited first call experience. He scored an impressive 71 against Pakistan in his second test at the Gabba and followed it up with his first century in test cricket. He eventually was out at 184. Not only did he display the required temperament but also he exemplified the ability to shift gears when needed.

Amidst all this, it was in the tour of India which proved to be the breakthrough series for Renshaw and nearly cemented him as the first choice opener. Australia hadn't won a test or a series in India since 2004 and this was going to be the "make or break" series for each and every player playing in the Australian squad since a spinning web was going to be looming over every batsman.

Australia, playing their first test in Pune which was an ultra spinning pitch brought back the demons of the series defeat to Sri Lanka in 2016 however they tackled relatively well thanks to their brief training camp in Dubai prior to coming to India with Renshaw scoring an extremely important fifty. Steve'O Keefe spun India's batsmen into a web of his own by routing them in both the innings. The action moved to Bengaluru where India levelled the series, however, Renshaw was the standout batsmen for Australia with playing a typical, old-fashioned and conventional Test innings of 60 off 196 deliveries, negotiating the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. Australia had crawled back to draw the third test, however, India clinched the series. For Australia, it was going to a seemingly daunting task to dethrone India at their den, however, Australia could be proud that they had come an inch closer to topple India in their home for the first time since more than a decade. The year 2017 was by far his breakout duration with 492 runs with a decent average of 37.85.

Matt Renshaw was deprived a spot in the recent successful Ashes campaign, due to his patchy Sheffield Shield form which led to Cameron Bancroft being given the nod ahead of him. Fast forward to the present, Renshaw earned himself a place ahead of Bancroft in Somerset for their county season, scoring two centuries in two matches which proved to be instrumental for Somerset in winning their first two matches. At the end of county championship division one, Matt Renshaw amassed an enormous 513 runs with a healthy average of 51.30. Renshaw has made a strong case for himself for being reckoned as the first choice opener for the Ashes to be held next year in England. He remains in reckoning especially after playing a couple of influential innings in the absence of the tainted opening batsman Cameron Bancroft. With the Ashes 2019 more than a year away, it remains to be seen how Renshaw performs in the future matches against the likes of Anderson, Broad, Wood and Woakes who are lethal in the swinging overcast conditions.

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