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The glaring technical flaw that’s making Matt Renshaw a bunny

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Matt Renshaw’s deep form trough is due to the exposure of a major flaw in his technique – he struggles badly against right-arm pace from around the wicket.

    This is a massive concern for the 21-year-old, and for the Australian team, given England’s opening bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad are highly skilled from around the wicket.

    What’s more, in Test cricket, Anderson averages 20 against left-handers and Broad averages 25, with a major factor in this success being the mastery they display when bowling around the wicket.

    Renshaw’s early success in Test cricket was built on his ability to leave the ball efficiently, particularly against right-arm quicks bowling over the wicket and slanting deliveries across him.

    This is the preferred angle for most right-arm paceman against left-handers and one which the Queenslander reads extremely well, continually shouldering arms to deliveries passing outside his off stump, whether by a slim or wide margin.

    In doing so, he frustrates opening bowlers, who do not want to waste the new ball by having the batsmen leave most deliveries. Often these bowlers lose patience, straighten their line to target the stumps and, in doing so, start straying occasionally on to Renshaw’s pads.

    This is exactly what the rookie Test opener wants, as the flick through square leg is his comfort shot until he is well settled. So right-arm paceman stopped using this angle against Renshaw, realising that his judgment of line was far less accurate when they came around the wicket.

    Matt Renshaw celebrates century SCG

    AAP Image/David Moir

    Against this line, Renshaw’s discipline in leaving the ball evaporates and he frequently gets drawn into sparring at deliveries well outside off stump, which he easily could ignore. He also tends to close off his front leg, which means that when bowlers do give him a delivery on the stumps, he is forced to reach around that front pad.

    The Indian quicks were the first to fully exploit this weakness, during Australia’s four Tests on the subcontinent earlier this year. Early in that series, the Indians targeted Renshaw with spin, assuming that he would labour against their slow bowlers on dry pitches, like most Aussie batsmen.

    When Renshaw prospered against their tweakers, making 68, 31 and 60 in his first three innings, India changed tack and went after him with their right-arm quicks, who bowled mostly from around the wicket. It worked a treat, with Renshaw being dismissed by pace in each of his next five innings, while making just 73 runs at 15.

    The first of those dismissals saw Renshaw play a half-hearted prod at a delivery from Ishant Sharma that would have missed his off stump by at least 30 centimetres. The delivery angled in, straightened off the pitch, kissed Renshaw’s outside edge, and landed in the gloves of Wriddhiman Saha.

    Things got even uglier in Renshaw’s next dig, the first innings of the third Test in Ranchi. From around the wicket, Umesh Yadav bowled a rank, wide ball, which landed on a good length about 60 centimetres outside off stump. Renshaw – with his front foot planted on the line of middle stump – leaned out and hacked at the delivery, sending an edge to first slip to complete an embarrassing dismissal.

    In the second innings, Ishant again from around the wicket got the old ball to tail back in, Renshaw missing it by a generous margin to be caught plumb in front.

    By this point, it was clear that Renshaw had a major issue against this angle, and Australian domestic bowlers took notice, targeting him from around the wicket so far this Sheffield Shield season.

    Even on familiar home pitches, Renshaw has been unable to find a solution to this technical problem, failing five straight times in the Shield. Across his past 14 first-class innings, Renshaw has averaged just 15. In his favour, he has at least managed to do an okay job of shielding his Queensland teammates from the new ball by batting for an average of 55 deliveries across his five knocks.

    But that task will be more difficult against Broad and Anderson, who have the experience, accuracy and guile to torment Renshaw with new or old ball.

    The young Australian faces an enormous challenge to prosper in the Ashes.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • November 15th 2017 @ 6:27am
      James GC said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:27am | ! Report

      As a bulls supporter it is painful to watch him bat atm. He is a young lad who’s early technique has been exposed and it’s now on the selectors to help him and support him. I think think best way they can do this is release him from a possible confidence shattering ashes series and leave him in the shield where there is a gluttony of world class bowlers for him to get it right. If he can he will come back into the team with plenty of time and be the man to soak up 200 balls leaving our number 3 and 4 to feast on the old ball.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 7:40am
        Chris Kettlewell said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        Agreed. He’s only 21, plenty of time for him to get dropped, work on his technique and come back. If he managed to play just one or two decent innings in the 6 to this point I’d feel a lot more confident. He came into this summer under a form cloud, but in reality considered a lock for the test match. But the way he’s struggled in every single innings he’s played and got out the same way so many times makes playing him in the Ashes a worry. It’s hard to see how he can struggle like he has in the Shield to this point and then come out and do significantly better in the tests. In a lot of ways it would be more humane to drop him now and just tell him the selectors still believe in him, but he needs to just work on those areas he’s struggling in and start making runs again.

        It’s very common for young batsmen to start off well before bowlers “work them out” a bit, and they start struggling, and then they need to go back to the drawing board a bit and work out how to combat that. Sometimes they can do that in international cricket without being dropped, but I do worry that it’s hard to see how Renshaw is going to work that sort of thing out well enough between now and the first test to not just be a walking wicket for the English bowlers.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 7:55am
        Ryan H said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

        .

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 7:57am
        Ryan H said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:57am | ! Report

        Agree, nothing wrong at all with him going away and building confidence in the QLD side. He’s 21 after all, and already 10 tests under his belt. I fear if he is selected that a few more low scores first up will sink his confidence to a new low, and this could take a long time to rebuild.

        It’s actually unfair to pick players when they’re out of sorts like this, as we saw with Maddinson last summer. Picking batsmen who are already out of form is likely to make the problem worse, and almost sets them up to fail. I’d still be fully supportive if they stuck with Renshaw for the first test or two to see how he performs, but I’m not sure they will now.

        • November 16th 2017 @ 1:37am
          Don Freo said | November 16th 2017 @ 1:37am | ! Report

          Wade is another example…and Mitch Marsh (but Mitch muddied the waters by bowling better than even he knew he could).

    • November 15th 2017 @ 7:21am
      Rob JM said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      The biggest problem is that we only have one Cameron Bancroft to fill both the Openers role and Keepers Role where we have our biggest holes. The only other opener option are Harris And Smarsh, We might be better off opening with Uzzie and having smith at 3. Bancroft would make an ideal No 5. Then we could pick two of Maxwell/Cartwright/Lehmann. Probably give Renshaw two tests though.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:02am
        Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Which is exactly what I’ve said in my article today… There is only one guy anywhere in the Shield throwing his hand up for both gigs.

        • November 16th 2017 @ 1:38am
          Don Freo said | November 16th 2017 @ 1:38am | ! Report

          Nothing wrong with the claims of Shaun Marsh. His form is compelling.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 7:37am
      Darren said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      He could be a disaster waiting to happen in the ashes. I think Bancroft should be picked to open. His form can’t be ignored. Nevill or Carey to keep. If Carey can score big today it may be enough to sway the decision. Otherwise go with Nevill.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:01am
        Edward L'Orange said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        It’s a big day for Carey today.

        But I agree with the consensus here, Renshaw should be given a rest to work on his technique. Bancroft now the obvious replacement.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 7:43am
      jamesb said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      The problem for Renshaw was that he was picked well before his time. At the time of his test selection, he only played a dozen or so first class games.

      He was pushed much earlier into the test side because of Australia’s disaster at Hobart. I guess the best thing for Renshaw to do is improve on his game away from the spotlight.

      But don’t blame Renshaw. If anything, selectors need to take more responsibility when it comes to selecting young batsman.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 12:19pm
        Pope Paul VII said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Spot on about the selectors. They are absolute panic merchants.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 8:33am
      Curious George said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      If we have warner and renshaw opening we will be regualry behind the 8 ball.

      “Give him a couple of tests!!” the village pauper screams from his 1 bedroom home in Chadwick.

      2 tests and we could EASILY be down 0-2 (especially with pink ball test)

      The ashes is not the place for a young piper ot find fine.

      Bin him now and get bancroft in

      Also bin Wade and shut the lid and padlock it for good measure

    • November 15th 2017 @ 8:47am
      Basil said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      With a heavy heart I think Renshaw should be left out. He needs to regain form and confidence.
      Bancroft is in super form and is a perfect replacement. I think he should be allowed to focus on facing the new ball without the burden of keeping.
      I would like to see Carey given the gloves as he’s the best of the keepers.
      If the selectors want to go with Bancroft to keep, he’ll have to bat down the order, thus possibly moving Khawaja to open and allowing room for both Cartwright and Maxwell. This could give them a fair bit of flexibility but may prove unsettling. So many options….

      • November 15th 2017 @ 10:01am
        jamesb said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        The problem with Carey is they could be picking someone before their time just like Renshaw.

        We do have options at number six like Maxi, Lehmann or the Hilton. But when it comes to openers and wicketkeeper/ batsman, we are very skinny.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 11:08am
          dan ced said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

          I think if that Aus A tour went ahead Carey would be a lock.. I still think he should be, tbh

          Nevill and Wade have both been tried, and failed. Going back to failure is no way to win. Give Carey the 10 tests Renshaw has had.

          People say “Ashes isn’t the test to blood debutants” England are probably the 5th best team in the world. It’s the ideal time 😛

          • November 15th 2017 @ 11:10am
            George said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

            Renshaw was being called a ‘gun’ and a ‘lock’ last year by the usual Roar Gurus.

            • Roar Guru

              November 15th 2017 @ 11:33am
              Edward L'Orange said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

              To be fair, he looked that way then, and he was a lock for while.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:01am
        Chris Kettlewell said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        I would rather leave Khawaja at 3 and Smith at 4. I’ve heard people say things like replacing Renshaw with Shaun Marsh would be a step backwards. I’m not advocating for Marsh, but his selection I wouldn’t see as a step backwards as much as a stop-gap that’s effectively just giving Renshaw a year or two to work himself out and hopefully then come back. Bancroft is only 3 years older than Renshaw. So if Bancroft is selected to open and he does well and holds the spot, then that could potentially mean that there’s no other opening spot open until Warner retires.

        So, if the selectors are effectively thinking that they really do want to stick with Renshaw, but feel he needs to work on some stuff at first class level before he’s ready to return to test cricket, then maybe picking an older player like Marsh would be what they’d go for.

        I don’t know if the selectors think like that or not, but there certainly have been selections in the past that seem like the whole purpose of that selection is to fill a gap temporarily until the person they really want is ready. So I wouldn’t put it past them.

        • November 16th 2017 @ 1:45am
          Don Freo said | November 16th 2017 @ 1:45am | ! Report

          I’m expecting S Marsh to be in the squad. Another strong innings in the context of a strangely behaving pitch today. 15 wickets on a crumbling pitch and Shaun stood up…again.

          The only thing possibly working against him is that he has no CA contract, suggesting they (read G Chappell) might have drawn a line under him.

          BTW. Can anyone imagine Trevor Hohns telling Greg Chappell, “You’re wrong”?

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