Matt Renshaw blasts a timely century

Scott Pryde Roar Guru

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    After a horrific first six rounds of the Sheffield Shield season, Queensland opener Matt Renshaw has returned to form in emphatic fashion, blasting 170 against Victoria to help the Bulls stay atop the table.

    Their gap has been shortened though, with Tasmania recording a crushing victory over Western Australia, taking it by an innings and 87 runs. The Tasmanian bowling attack knocked over Western Australia for totals of just 67 and 277 as they surged into second place with just three rounds to go.

    In the other match, New South Wales lost to South Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground and dropped to third.

    The closeness of the table ensures we won’t know the make-up of the final until the last game of the season has been played.

    Here are all the big points to come out of Round 7.

    Matt Renshaw puts Cameron Bancroft on notice
    Runs have been hard to come by for Renshaw, having scored just 238 runs at 19.8 across his 12 innings – including two half-centuries and a 32 in his last three digs.

    The reverse in fortunes felt like it wasn’t far away for the gritty 21-year-old, and even if it was on a flat MCG wicket, it will do wonders for his confidence.

    He looked somewhere near his best throughout the knock and while it wasn’t completely faultless, it was the best Renshaw has batted in over 12 months.

    It will shape as a welcome return to form for the Bulls, who will be relying on their young opener to not only help them into the finals, but win the competition if they are to get there.

    Matt Renshaw celebrates century SCG

    Matt Renshaw. (AAP Image/David Moir)

    On a personal level, Renshaw has started to apply pressure on incumbent Australian opener Cameron Bancroft.

    While the Western Australian was deemed to have done enough during the summer to retain his place at the top of the order for the tour of South Africa, he is already under the pump from Joe Burns, who was in good form throughout the summer.

    Even though Renshaw won’t play in the tour of South Africa, there is some Test cricket before next summer kicks off, with a trip to Zimbabwe and a home series against Bangladesh on the agenda. A strong finish to the Shield season and winning performances in those matches could leave the Queenslander in the driver’s seat to play against India next summer, given Bancroft’s struggles during the Ashes.

    The MCG needs a completely new square for 2018-19
    It’s becoming more and more evident the MCG wicket block needs to be torn up and started again before next summer.

    It came to a head during the Ashes, when Australia and England played out a terribly boring draw on a wicket which didn’t deteriorate for five days.

    In the fixture between Queensland and Victoria, just 18 wickets were taken in 339 overs before the game was called just before tea on the final day. In the three games played on the MCG during 2017 in this Shield season, there were three other equally lifeless draws.

    It makes it five first-class fixtures in a row (including the Test) on the ground which have ended in a stalemate.

    Not only does it make one of the most famous grounds in world sport look like a dud, but it’s hurt Victoria, who sit on the bottom of the table with five draws, a win and a loss from their seven games.

    Unless Cricket Australia invest heavily in the ground, it risks being suspended for 12 months over the next few years should more poor pitches spring up for Test cricket.

    Imaging that – Boxing Day needing to be moved from the MCG.

    New South Wales lose top two spot as Redbacks strengthen chances
    The Blues were looking good before the BBL break, but they have lost back-to-back games since the competition returned.

    While they have been missing a lot of their first-choice squad to the Australian setup, that’s not anything out of the ordinary for NSW.

    Round 6 saw a four-wicket loss to Western Australia at the WACA, with Daniel Hughes, Ed Cowan and Peter Nevill – the three men supposed to be leading their batting list – struggling.

    It was the same scenario in Sydney against the Redbacks as they were skittled for 256 and 213, only Hughes (93) and Kurtis Patterson (89) stopping them being rolled for an embarrassingly low total in the first innings.

    With just three rounds to go, the Blues are going to struggle to get back into the top two without their international players.

    The Redbacks, on the other hand, have kept their season alive. Sitting in fourth, they are only three points behind the second-placed Tigers.

    With Jake Weatherald, Tom Cooper and Joe Mennie all displaying good form, they could be a force over the final three rounds pushing for a spot in the final, especially with two home games.

    Hilton Cartwright’s chance to stand up blows by as Warriors get thumped
    The Warriors had a good chance to push their claims for a top two spot this round taking on Tasmania, but ultimately were thumped.

    While Tasmania had the best of the pitch after winning the toss and electing to bat, the Warriors, with a weakened side, should have put up a much stronger effort.

    After the hosts piled up 9-431 declared in their first innings, WA were knocked over for 67 before being forced to follow on. The second innings was better, but they still didn’t come close to making Tasmania bat again and fringe Australian player Hilton Cartwright will be disappointed with his returns.

    He had a chance to lead his team without the Marsh brothers among others, but instead took 0-56 off 11 overs and made scores of 11 and 19.

    One of the options at the start of the summer for the Australian number six role, Cartwright seems a long way away right now.

    Hilton Cartwright of Australia bowls

    Hilton Cartwright (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    Matthew Wade sends selectors a reminder
    Another discarded national team player, wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, sent a timely reminder of his talent, making 139 for the Tigers.

    It comes after he picked up three wickets with the ball in a shock spell against Queensland during the last round.

    While Wade has admitted his international career is virtually over, there could be a chance for him to remodel himself as a pure batsman with those sorts of scores.

    Even if he was also keeping for the Tigers against the Warriors, Wade has scored runs before, and while not consistent enough, could put himself in the mix for the number six role in the Australian team with consistent performances.

    For that to happen though, he will need a drop off in form of the current team and to have not only a strong finish to this Shield season, but a fantastic start to the next one.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 2000 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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    The Crowd Says (62)

    • February 20th 2018 @ 2:58am
      Mitch said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:58am | ! Report

      I would have Renshaw opening in thd Australian squad he is an absolute tank and went from strength to strength when he was in the Aus squad. Untill he had a technical issue exposed late in the Indian series he look one of our best players. Thats what the shield is for to work on those issues. Bancroft’s technique on the front foot will be absolutely torn to pieces by Philander.

      • Roar Rookie

        February 20th 2018 @ 9:16am
        Matthew Pearce said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Did people seriously not pay attention to the rest of the domestic season? Renshaw’s century brings his Shield average up to just above 30. Spent most of the Ashes averaging 11 and has passed 20 four times this season. Talk about rewarding shield form…

        Plus, to be a broken record, Renshaw wouldn’t have even gotten that test spot had Burns not been shafted after the Hobart test. Funny how that treatment never seems to be brought up by the usual “Smith’s mates!” crowd.

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2018 @ 12:02pm
          Matt H said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

          Yes, Renshaw is not ready yet. Even the English team scored in Melbourne this year. But it’s good for the Bulls to see him get some confidence back, especially with Burns injured.

          And yes, Joe Burns has been very shabbily treated. I’ve mentioned it before.

          • Roar Guru

            February 20th 2018 @ 1:21pm
            Ryan H said | February 20th 2018 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

            Yep, always felt Burns was shafted big time; three centuries in 13 tests, averaging almost 40. Should never have been dumped to begin with – turfed after one poor match in Hobart against South Africa; one where just about every other teammate failed too.

            • February 21st 2018 @ 12:51am
              Bakkies said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:51am | ! Report

              Burns might get back in to the test side as a middle order batsman. Shaun Marsh is 35 in July and Smith may go to three where he batted in India if the selectors continue to move Khawaja out of the side when in Asia.

              ‘Not only does it make one of the most famous grounds in world sport look like a dud, but it’s hurt Victoria, who sit on the bottom of the table with five draws, a win and a loss from their seven games.’

              They should have lost the Tassie game had the ACB not interfered. Tassie had to bat longer to give Paine a chance with the blade which reduced their time to bowl Victoria out.

              • February 21st 2018 @ 9:23am
                Don Freo said | February 21st 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

                That game was rained out with a day to play. No conspiracy there.

              • February 21st 2018 @ 9:54am
                Bearfax said | February 21st 2018 @ 9:54am | ! Report

                Rubbish Don. The Gods of Cricket have their favourites too.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 12:11pm
        Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

        Agree with Matt here – Renshaw’s form throughout the Shield season hasn’t warranted selection, but a couple of half-centuries and now the confidence builder in Melbourne. Hopefully he can get his form back and be included for the winter series against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh which would do him the world of good.

        • February 20th 2018 @ 12:51pm
          Adam eels2018 said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          Scott I’m hearing 1 test and 3 odis over in Zimbabwe so no point taking renshaw to try his record look better and he just doesn’t deserve it after his poor shield form.

          • Roar Guru

            February 20th 2018 @ 1:05pm
            Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

            I had heard two Tests, but one is probably more likely. Although recent speculation suggests the whole thing will be a T20 tri-series with Pakistan so that’d be a waste of time.

            • February 20th 2018 @ 2:25pm
              Adam eels2018 said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

              Hopefully it stays with the one test and 3 Odis.Can you tell me a bit about the Zimbabwe conditions and the type of pitchs.

              • Roar Guru

                February 20th 2018 @ 3:20pm
                Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

                I would say if there was one Test it’ll be in Harare at the Sports Club ground. The pitches (there and Bulwayo) are generally better for pace bowling early, then flatten out and take spin at the end. Normally, they aren’t bad cricket wickets, although when Zimbabwe beat Pakistan there in 2014, it was definitely better for pace bowling than you would often see.

                It’d be interesting to see exactly what they do during July though. It’s about as winter of a series as Zimbabwe will ever host. When New Zealand toured South Africa in the winter of 2016, it was about as bowler-friendly as you’re likely to see, although rain meant the first Test only had 109 overs of play.

                The second Test saw 27 wickets in the final 163 overs after South Africa got 8/481 in the first innings.

                I’d expect similarly green pitches for a July tour of Zimbabwe.

            • February 20th 2018 @ 10:22pm
              Timmuh said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

              From what I’ve read it will be the tri-series at most. Increasingly it is looking likely they can’t even afford to host that and there will be no games if they fail to make the World Cup.

              • Roar Guru

                February 20th 2018 @ 10:31pm
                Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:31pm | ! Report

                That’s really quite sad to see how far Zimbabwe cricket has fallen that they couldn’t even host Australia who would be the biggest drawing opponents. Where did you read that?

              • February 21st 2018 @ 12:57am
                Bakkies said | February 21st 2018 @ 12:57am | ! Report

                Their coach said after the SA test that they are likely to focus on one day Cricket which they are struggling at (Afghanistan bowled them out for 65 the other day). I don’t think they did that badly against SA to make a public statement about focusing on one day Cricket. It was a day night test (they wouldn’t have played one before) in Port Elizabeth a ground that is noted for low scores. They bowled during the day and picked up nine wickets (SA declared before the night session).

                The ACB or the ICC should contribute some funds towards Zimbabwe for that tour. Zimbabwe sport is basically starting from scratch and that includes finances.

              • Roar Guru

                February 21st 2018 @ 3:31pm
                Matt H said | February 21st 2018 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                The annoying thing about Zimbabwe is that they get a full member grant but can;t make it work.

    • Roar Guru

      February 20th 2018 @ 9:11am
      The Bush said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report


      I wouldn’t say that Renshaw has been horrible across the first 6 rounds. He was horrible across the first 4 rounds, but these have been his scores over the last 3 games:

      5, 51*, 56, 32, 170 and 0. That is an average of 62.60 over the last three games.

      The 170 was just the continuation of his upward trend after a terrible start to the season.

      I still believe that Renshaw has show far more at Test level than Bancroft has and at still looks like the better long term prospects.

      Regardless though, Bancroft is in the team right now and I hope he scores plenty against the Saffas.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 12:13pm
        Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Agree with what you’re saying Bush,

        But even two half-centuries, while a major improvement, weren’t enough to reverse what I would consider a horrible start. If you were to look at his average just across those two matches, it’s 144 runs in four innings which isn’t going to get you picked for any Australian side.

        He needs to find some consistency over the final few rounds now. That’ll be the challenge, as well as batting on better decks than the ‘G.

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2018 @ 12:52pm
          The Bush said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

          Oh I agree that it doesn’t change a horrible start to the season, but if you really nitpick, the 51* was not out, so that’s 144 runs at 48 – not exactly horrible at all.

          While he needs to find some consistency over the next few rounds if the Bulls are to have any chance of winning the Shield, I dunno if it really makes that great of a difference to his test selection chances (though it’ll hurt them if he fails badly). I believe he’s off to play County in May? If so, that’ll be the more relevant body of work to determine whether he gets a gig in June/July against Zimbabwe (1 test) and Bangers (2 tests). That’s of course assuming Bancroft isn’t a success in South Africa (in which case I suspect he’ll survive through to next summer).

          • February 21st 2018 @ 1:01am
            Bakkies said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:01am | ! Report

            We mustn’t forget that Renshaw is only 21 and was capped as a 20 year old. I can’t recall many Australian players being selected at such a young age and to open the batting. He said he has made a correction by keeping his head still. It is basically a new season for him as he didn’t play in the BBL.

    • February 20th 2018 @ 9:23am
      Bearfax said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Meanwhile young Heazlett after injury and a drop in form is on the way back, his last three innings being 39, 124 and 49. And then there’s the kid at one stage expected to be the next champion batsman, who struggled in his first year. This year, Jake Doran made his first century and is averaging this season 45.3, raising his overall average from under 20 to 27.91. Two kids to watch as well as Renshaw and Jake Lehmann

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 12:13pm
        Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Jake Doran has heaps of talent, but was really thrown in the deep end at the Tigers. He has performed solidly this year though and I expect him to go from strength to strength over the next 12 months.

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2018 @ 2:32pm
          JamesH said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

          I love the way Doran has applied himself. He has just taken as much time as he needs in each innings to get himself in, even if it means being 10 off 50. There’s some self-belief blossoming.

    • February 20th 2018 @ 9:43am
      JohnB said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      The Bush has pointed out Renshaw’s scores over the past few games – worth pointing out also that the runs against Tasmania were against a decent attack and on a pitch on which Tas were bowled out for 117. A 50 and a 30 in those circumstances are worth more than they at first appear. Admittedly that means you might have to discount the 170 on the MCG a bit – but the same comment applies to runs made on other very flat pitches around the country at times.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 12:14pm
        Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

        Agree – he needs to be consistent on decks with more life on them over the final few rounds leading into the final, where his style could really suit Queensland should they hold onto first spot.

    • February 20th 2018 @ 9:59am
      Jarryd said | February 20th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

      What is Renshaw doing over the off season? If he’s serious about getting back into the test team he should be signed up with a county club for the English Summer.

      • February 20th 2018 @ 10:47am
        Ouch said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        Pretty sure he has, along with the Marsh brothers and several others

        • Roar Guru

          February 20th 2018 @ 12:17pm
          Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          The Marsh brothers definitely have – one with Glamorgan and one Surrey although not sure which way round off the top of my head.

          I know Lyon and Renshaw are both rumoured to have signed, but nothing official on either as far as I’m aware

        • February 21st 2018 @ 1:24am
          Bakkies said | February 21st 2018 @ 1:24am | ! Report

          Bancroft is off to Somerset. Mitch Marsh is going to Surrey. Travis Head Worcestershire, Joe Mennie Lancashire.

          Lyon was linked to Notts but they want to strengthen their batting. Dizzy is trying to sign Sayers at Sussex, he is not sure if Sayers will get a visa though.

          Still a number of overseas spots available.

    • Columnist

      February 20th 2018 @ 10:52am
      Ronan O'Connell said | February 20th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

      Great for Australia to see Renshaw back in the runs.

      The one thing I would point out is this match was played on an absolute road at the MCG – only 18 wickets fell for the entire match despite both teams having strong, in-form bowling attacks, and neither team having a particularly strong batting lineup.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 11:47am
        Rellum said | February 20th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

        The MCG has been so flat and lifeless this year it has pretty much put an end to the Vics chances of another title, even though they are still in it. It has got to the point you need to mark players down who haven’t scored runs there this year.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 12:19pm
        Scott Pryde said | February 20th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Yeah Ronan – as I mentioned in the piece, the MCG simply isn’t good enough for first class cricket at the moment. Four games there this year and they have all resulted in draws, which as Rellum alludes to, has cost the Vics any chance of a title.

      • Roar Guru

        February 20th 2018 @ 2:33pm
        JamesH said | February 20th 2018 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

        Just ask Jackson Bird, lol.

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