Steve Smith has been withdrawn from the second Ashes Test after concussion testing found that he had developed symptoms overnight.
About a year ago the majority of the cricketing world was stunned as Australia announced that 20-year-old left hander Matthew Renshaw would be called up into the national Test side to join David Warner at the top of the order in the third Test against South Africa.
Fast forward 12 months and we are again shocked as the now 21-year-old has been dropped from the Australian team in favour of West Australian Cameron Bancroft, right before this crucial Ashes series.
Having performed well in his first Australian summer, which included a monstrous 184 in the Sydney Test against Pakistan, many were buoyed by this young man as he was seen as the long term partner for vice captain David Warner. Following his debut summer, Renshaw would open the innings on Australia’s tour of India and perform admirably scoring two fifties and showing excellent grit and determination in preserving his wicket and adapting to foreign conditions.
His performances over his first four months in the side were extremely promising and showed that he could without a doubt have a big part to play in the Ashes series coming up in the next Australian summer.
Fast forward to November and the selectors have already lost faith in the up and coming left hander after a handful of failures for Queensland in the first three Shield games. For starters I am in no way saying Bancroft doesn’t deserve his spot in the side, the man has been brilliant in the Shield over a number of seasons with an average of just under 40.
The manner in which he has approached his batting at the beginning of this summer has been nothing short of outstanding having scored 442 runs in three games at an average of 110.5.
However, when dealing with young players I feel it is best to stick them, which is why I feel the selectors were wrong in not giving Renshaw a chance to play in the first two Test matches and then re assess from there.
Having not been able to surpass 19 thus far in the Shield season, Renshaw’s form is definitely a worry, however he was still able to occupy the crease on a number of occasions with his score of 19 off 109 deliveries proving this.
Having Renshaw opening the batting, he is able to stick around and see off the shine of the new ball which in turn helps the likes of David Warner, Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja accelerate.
He complements the top order very well, and despite his poor form in the shield, I felt he had a very important role to play in Australia winning back the Ashes.
Renshaw is also very good at handling pressure, as seen by his performance in the second innings of his debut Test against South Africa and throughout the series against Pakistan and especially India.
Where most batsman fail to adapt, Renshaw was able to put forward solid performances by simply valuing his wicket and grinding out the Indian bowlers.
He may not look pretty at the crease, but his determination to not give up his wicket is something I feel the Australian team lacks a bit at the moment, with much of the top order being very flashy and free flowing players.
Renshaw adds a different dimension to this batting line-up, and I’m unsure as to whether Bancroft can step in to the Test arena and soak up the pressure like him.
With Trevor Hohns signalling the importance of the early shield rounds on the make up of the Ashes squad, it is understandable as to why they made this particular move.
However, if Renshaw is to be a long term player for Australia his performance thus far at Test level surely warrant him at least two opportunities to play himself out of this slump. At his best, Renshaw is an extremely tough customer for bowlers to deal with as he will simply keep on batting and run you into the ground.
He is very similar to previous Ashes opener, Chris Rogers who’s patience and determination complemented the attacking style of David Warner very well. The pair would become one of world crickets best opening partnerships, as there extreme differences in style seemed to click perfectly.
This is the potential I feel Renshaw has opening the innings with Warner with his slow and patient style beautifully complementing that of the aggressive Australian Vice-Captain.
Matthew Renshaw is without a doubt one of the brightest young talents Australian cricket has to offer, which is why it is a shame we will not be seeing him for at least the first two Tests of this Ashes series.
Renowned for his ability to soak up pressure, this would have been a great Test for Renshaw and something that could have really defined his career as an Australian opening batsman.