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 @ 9:13am
      paul said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

      Bancroft might be an option at the top of the order but I’m not sure this is the best place for him to bat. I reckon he’d make a terrific number 6 in the same vein as Mike Hussey and there’s no way he should also be asked to keep wicket – that’s just setting himself up to fail.

      I guess the selectors will be earning their money this week when they pick the side. Do they punt with guys like Renshaw, Wade & Maxwell or do they include Bancroft, Cartwright and Neville/Carey. Interesting to see which way they go

      • Roar Rookie

        November 15th 2017 @ 11:56am
        Matthew Pearce said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

        He could go at 6, but you’d then have to completely offset both Maxwell and Cartwright. Is that the best way to go? Knocking over the best of the non-guaranteed incumbents and keeping the worst one?

        He might be able to boost the middle order against our collapses, but he also might not – it’s not a clear-cut deal like people seem to think it is. Good players in great form can still get out early, especially if the bowlers are on top and guys like Khawaja and Smith are already gone.

        He’s been scoring runs as opener, which is what’s putting him into contention – if he’s going to be picked, that’s where it needs to be.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 11:00am
      BurgyGreen said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      So the selectors’ meeting was yesterday, correct?

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2017 @ 11:03am
      Red Kev said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

      Interesting article Ronan and given your research I think it likely Renshaw has to be dropped to work on the problem. Sad for him but good for Bancroft and a lucky reprieve for Wade or Nevill.

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2017 @ 1:49pm
      spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

      I have to concede and accept that Renshaw is not in form that could possibly warrant selection. I was hoping he’d turn it around after batting out 100 balls last week.

      That said, the title of this article is ridiculous – pointing out a technical flaw with the benefit of hindsight. I didn’t hear people saying this last summer or in India when the flaw was present.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 2:04pm
        JoM said | November 15th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

        He has been batting in the nets against Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins today with Lehmann and Howard watching so maybe all is not lost yet.

        • November 16th 2017 @ 1:51am
          Don Freo said | November 16th 2017 @ 1:51am | ! Report

          I wonder why Howard was watching. What does he know about batting? Surely he should be working on the fitness support for Behrendorff, Stanlake, NCN, Paris, Agar, SOK, Whiteman, Lynn, Holland.

          Maybe he is taking credit for Renshaw’s current “performance”.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 2:05pm
        Ben Brown said | November 15th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

        What else do you expect from clowns on this site?

      • Roar Rookie

        November 15th 2017 @ 2:33pm
        Matthew Pearce said | November 15th 2017 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

        Why is using hindsight to point out a technical flaw ridiculous? If it’s always been there, then it’s just a matter of pointing that out. They get overlooked when the player’s succeeding, they’re brought to the fore when they’re not. Foresight or hindsight is irrelevant.

        If you’re wondering why it’s taken so long for this discussion to come out, it’s probably connected to the fact that he’s averaged 18.25 over his past 20 FC/LA innings, and only now is his spot even under question.

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 4:05pm
          spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

          It’s ridiculous because people – this author and myself included – were singing his praises 10 months ago.

          Foresight and hindsight are irrelevant. The true experts see it in the present and write it up accordingly.

          A “major flaw” should be obvious to all experts very quickly and discussed very quickly.

          • Roar Rookie

            November 15th 2017 @ 4:30pm
            Matthew Pearce said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

            So? It depends. Something like “Renshaw struggles against right-armers around the wicket” can be hard to pick up if he’s not being bowled to around the wicket by righties all the time. It’s become more apparent now.

            In this case, the fact that everyone was instantly singing his praises works against it as well – let’s be honest, he was basically a golden child. Chappelli (much as I hate to be on his side) made the observation in his first test that he doesn’t rotate the strike enough and everyone was up in arms because he was criticising the young bloke.

            Maybe it’s easier for me now because I’ve never been that sold on him, but I don’t think it’s ridiculous.

            • November 16th 2017 @ 1:56am
              Don Freo said | November 16th 2017 @ 1:56am | ! Report

              Sprucey, Matthew is right here. Hindsight is where we work those things out. I love the ability of coaches and captains and particularly that brightest of all beings, the fast bowler, to be able to work these things out.

              The analysts in the press follow but that’s their role. They’d be coaching for much more money than they’d get writing if they could do it sooner.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 3:15pm
      Mike Dugg said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

      There’s an option no ones thinking about. Move Khawaja up to open and play both Cartwright and Maxwell with Bancroft as the keeper.
      Warner, Ussie, smith, handscomb, Cartwright, Maxwell, Bancroft

      • November 15th 2017 @ 4:31pm
        matth said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:31pm | ! Report

        If you do that, I’d play Cartwright at 3

    • November 15th 2017 @ 3:56pm
      Rob said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

      Renshaw debut selection in the Australian Team was a revelation. He was not to young as he proved to be a rock at the top of the order in his first 6 Test matches. Some would say many older more experienced players learnt a little bit from watching Renshaw bat.
      Ronan has pointed out the sudden dip in form being directly linked to bowlers coming around the wicket? IMO it’s has nothing to do with technique but more to do with confidence. You don’t average 45 plus opening the bat at 20 years of age in Test cricket with a poor technique.
      Say he’s ‘out of form” and Bancroft is “in form” if you like. Form can change overnight in my opinion. What Renshaw has proven is he can bat for a long time against quality bowling, under pressure.

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