Does Matt Renshaw need to be dropped for Brisbane?

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

By , Scott Pryde is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    Australian opener Matt Renshaw’s form is going from bad to worse across the opening rounds of the Sheffield Shield and it’s getting to the point where the selectors could be searching for a replacement.

    Despite a lack of runs in India and Bangladesh over the winter, his spot still seemed reasonably secure with three rounds of the Shield to play.

    The real question was whether any other openers were going to mount a case and put Renshaw under pressure, but even if that’s not the case – and it’s not – Renshaw is facing a nervous wait to Test selection.

    He has now had four failures in a row and yesterday could have been the most painful of the lot as Jack Bird, Gabe Bell, Tom Bell and Sam Rainbird challenged him time and time again.

    After three failures to start the season, Renshaw needed runs and with Queensland chasing just 158 runs for victory against Tasmania, it was the perfect opportunity. Credit to Renshaw, he tried to see it out, even if he was batting awfully. Time in the middle when you’re out of form can work wonders, but the incumbent Australian never got going, eventually getting out for a messy 19 off 109 balls.

    There were also two boundaries in that knock, meaning he scored just 11 off the remaining 107 balls. That’s 96 dot balls, also known as totally unacceptable and has to be, at the very least, worrying to the selectors.

    Now, given Renshaw’s form in Australia last summer, it has to count for something and I don’t necessarily want to number his cards as not to be selected at this stage, but even the most optimistic of Renshaw fans must see he is walking on thin ice at the moment.

    His saving grace may be that no one else has yet put their hands up for selection. Shaun Marsh made a half-century in the opening round, but none of the others who are likely to be selected have made a real fist of it.

    One of the interesting bolter-type possibilities is Cameron Bancroft. It’s highly unlikely he will open the batting for Australia, with a more likely selection at No.7 as wicket-keeper, and that’s if the selectors see anything in him.

    Matt Renshaw bats during a test match against India

    (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    Bolter would be a loose term, given his name has barely been mentioned before he made a spirited 76 not out, carrying his bat against a firey New South Wales attack. That Blues attack carries Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon, who will all be wearing the baggy green on November 23.

    While his more experienced teammates including Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh and Hilton Cartwright fell around him yesterday and into this morning, Bancroft was a rock for Western Australia.

    An option could be to promote Usman Khawaja back to the top of the order. While he hasn’t scored many runs this round, he secured his spot at first drop in the first round with a tough century at the Gabba against the pink ball.

    Even though Khawaja appeared to solve Australia’s long-term woes at No.3 last summer, he has opened previously.

    The question that must be answered by the selectors is whether Renshaw holds his spot. If the answer is no, then the possible options seem short, and moving Khawaja back to the top may seem left-field, but it might open the way for Peter Handscomb or Steve Smith to be promoted to three.

    That would open up another middle order spot, at which point, even if only playing as a batsman, Bancroft becomes a real possibility.

    That could be pie-in-the-sky stuff as well. There’s no doubting the problems Australia have faced at three, and in home conditions, Khawaja seems (and has a track record) like a man who can be relied on to produce huge amounts of runs.

    While Renshaw’s form is the main talking point to come out of yesterday’s action, we have to keep an eye on the battle for No.6 which stepped up another gear yesterday with another bolter stepping up to the plate.

    Jake Lehmann, son of Australian coach Darren Lehmann has had a superb couple of days. He backed up a first-innings century with 93 at a fair clip against the Victorians in the second and now must be in the discussion for No.6.

    As unlikely as it seems, the form of the other challengers for No.6 is begging for someone to stand up. Glenn Maxwell, Hilton Cartwright and Shaun Marsh have all scored a single half-century so far, while Mitchell Marsh isn’t bowling and hasn’t gone past 50.

    Moises Henriques form is currently not looking like it will keep him in the New South Wales team, let alone in the discussion for Australia and Daniel Hughes is as left-field as they come without the runs to back him up and finding any other challengers seems to be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

    It could be another reason Bancroft is considered. He would seem as much of an outside chance as Lehmann, but with Australia rarely using a fifth bowler anyway, one of them could well be included somewhere in the side. In saying that you’d think Bancroft needs to score runs in the second innings for the Warriors today should the weather allow that to happen.

    The other key positional battle is that of the wicket-keeper. Apart from the bolting of Bancroft, we learnt little with Alex Carey the only one to step to the crease of the contenders.

    He got to stumps on eight not out and will have a limited opportunity today to do anything other than try to score quick runs, which can also be said for Peter Nevill who isn’t even at the crease yet.

    It’s been said before and we can say it again – someone must score runs to replace Matthew Wade, and as yet, that hasn’t happened.

    In other scores for the Ashes team, David Warner had his second failure of the match after a strong first round against the pink ball, Steve Smith continues to work his way out of a form rut by going to stumps on 74 not out. In Hobart, Usman Khawaja guied Queensland to victory with 28 not out.

    Steve Smith scores his second Ashes hundred

    AFP PHOTO / GREG WOOD

    Both Mitchell Starc (4/56) and Josh Hazlewood (3/24) were amongst the wickets at Hurstville while Pat Cummins also picked up two in a strong spell of bowling, with Nathan Lyon bowled consistently despite not having much luck.

    The final day of the second round begins today from 10am (AEDT) with only two matches left for completion in Melbourne and Hurstville.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.