Matthew Renshaw should replace Cameron Bancroft in South Africa

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    Australia should fly in-form opener Matt Renshaw to South Africa for the third Test, which starts in ten days’ time, after Cameron Bancroft failed again in the second match yesterday.

    Bancroft was fortunate to retain his starting spot for this tour after an underwhelming debut series in the Ashes and now, averaging 27 from seven Tests, has become a weakness Australia cannot continue to possess.

    The West Australian has had his technique picked apart by first England and now the Proteas.

    Meanwhile, with three centuries in his past three Sheffield Shield matches, Renshaw has well and truly banished the awful form which saw dumped for the Ashes.

    The 21-year-old opener had a sensational start to his Test career but then made himself virtually unselectable for the Ashes by averaging just 14 with the bat in 16 first-class innings leading up to the first Test.

    Since then, however, Renshaw has run roughshod over the Shield competition, piling up 583 runs at 73. Further underlining how greatly his form has shifted is the fact Renshaw’s strike rate in his last five Shield matches has been 58, compared to his glacial rate of 28 in his first four games this season.

    During this latter period, Renshaw has showcased multiple gears to his batting, often starting slowly before taking attacks apart once set. This was an aspect of his batting which needed to improve during his ten-match stint in the Test team.

    Matt Renshaw bats during a test match against India

    (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

    The other key area Renshaw needed to hone was his batting against right-arm quicks from around the wicket. He was first exposed by this bowling tactic in the Tests in India last year, when the home pacemen began using this angle as the series wore on.

    Up to that point of his Test career, Renshaw’s success had been built on his discipline in leaving balls outside off stump. This forced bowlers to straighten their line, often earning Renshaw the leg side flicks which helped get him going early in his innings.

    Once these right-armers changed their angle to around the wicket Renshaw’s judgment became cloudy and he was repeatedly found out, prodding at and edging wide deliveries which could easily have been left alone.

    The quicks in the Shield have not abandoned this tactic, Renshaw has just managed to rid himself of the tendency to fish for those wider offerings.

    While many cricket fans are adamant Renshaw should never have been dropped from the Test team, I would argue he has benefited immensely from his stint in the Shield. The left-hander had significant issues to iron out and was able to do that away from the blinding glare of an Ashes contest.

    He now looks primed to return to international cricket for the third Test in Cape Town, which is traditionally a very pace-friendly venue. With his generous patience and ability to blunt the new ball, Renshaw always shaped as the perfect opening partner for the dynamic David Warner.

    Renshaw’s circumspection and willingness to bat for time also meshes with Australia’s new cautious approach to Test batting, a strategy which has served them well over the past year.

    As much has been evident since his Test debut, when he batted for 183 balls for the match while being dismissed just once on what was a juicy deck against an in-form Proteas attack.

    While Renshaw has a solid defence at the core of his game, that is the area which Bancroft most needs to improve. At just 25 years of age, the West Australian has ample time to achieve this. But, like Renshaw before him, he would be best seeking this improvement while playing State cricket.

    Meanwhile, Usman Khawaja eased concerns about his form with a dogged innings of 75 yesterday.

    The left-hander had to scrap hard for his runs, and was worked over by Proteas quicks Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi early in his knock.

    But Khawaja remained patient and grinded his way to his most important innings since his sublime 145 against South Africa in Adelaide 16 months ago.

    Particularly encouraging was the assured manner in which Khawaja tackled in-form spinner Keshav Maharaj. Khawaja alternately used his feet confidently against the finger spinner, got deep into his crease to cut Maharaj, and even flicked a reverse sweep to the boundary.

    At the other end, all-rounder Mitch Marsh constructed yet another mature and patient innings, continuing his extraordinary transformation as a Test cricketer. Marsh once more set tight parameters within which he operated, limiting risk and focusing on batting for time.

    Since returning to the Test team three months ago, Marsh has piled up 465 runs at 77. Yet, despite his fine work alongside Khawaja in the last session yesterday, he will need to kick on today if Australia are to bat their way back into this Test.

    After offering disconcerting seam movement on day one, the Port Elizabeth pitch has settled down to become a good track for batting. Australia will need to swell their current lead of 41 to beyond 150 if they are to put any pressure on the hosts.

    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 (153)

    • March 12th 2018 @ 6:33am
      Swannies said | March 12th 2018 @ 6:33am | ! Report

      South Africa have shown their class on day 3 and deserve to level the series.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 8:42am
        jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        You don’t (usually) win a test in one day.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 9:12am
          spruce moose said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

          No, but the pendulum can swing violently towards one team instead of the other in a day.

          The first test was won the moment Australia skittled the South Africans on day 2.

          South Africa in the box seat now, but who knows, if Australia can scrape another 120-130 runs, it will make the chase really interesting.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 9:49am
            jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:49am | ! Report

            Exactly. You don’t “deserve” to win a test based on how you play one day. SA could ease off and Marsh and Paine put on 150 – unlikely as it seems.

            • Columnist

              March 12th 2018 @ 12:06pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

              Australia’s only realistic hope of getting back into the Test is for Marsh and Paine to survive the next 17 overs to the second new ball and then, well set at that point, take advantage of its hardness to score some boundaries.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 5:10pm
          John Erichsen said | March 12th 2018 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

          No but SA won day one and also got the points on day 2. Three superior days in succession is often enough to win a test, unless the opposition do something very special.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:10am
      Worlds Biggest said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Bring Renshaw back, he is in great form while Bancroft is not convincing. Good on Usie for getting some runs. Marsh and Paine need to put on a big stand to have any kind of shot.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 9:12am
        Flemo said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        I agree on bringing Matt for Bancroft, Khawaja also showed his class and in particular the way he played spin must have even pleased those who were criticising him, big fight needed tomorrow

      • March 12th 2018 @ 12:59pm
        vikram said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

        well
        bencroft is in the team and in the test as well

        give him a time
        which he earned.

        to early
        to think about replacement

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:17am
      mactheblack said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      Bancroft was unfortunate to get out playing on today, (third day in Port Elizabeth) when looking quite solid. I think the selectors threw Renshaw in to the deep end as he was still too young for that role. No doubting his talent but does scoring three Sheffield centuries suggest his ready to take up opening slot again? The other problem many selectors have is to fall in to the trap of not giving especially young players enough innings’ to prove their value/worth – and allow them to settle in to team culture and specific role for eg opening the batting etc. Sometimes it’s purely knee-jerk. Yes, maybe Renshaw should have been given time to settle in . I find it quite amazing that once Khawaja got out on the third day in PE on Sunday, pundits were speaking about the Aussie “tail” already. Notwithstanding the top order problems on this tour, and the middle -order issues Aussies are starting to show some batting frailties – and one starts to believe that Aussie batting is centred around Warner-Smith axis. These two are not exactly firing – and it’s plain to see the Aussies are falling short in the batting department. Unless Marsh-Paine stand produces something of significance can anyone honestly see the Aussies, with tail-enders only to come getting out of this one? SA still have by far the stronger batting line-up

      • March 12th 2018 @ 5:13pm
        John Erichsen said | March 12th 2018 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

        Playing on isn’t unlucky when you play across the line the way Cameron does. He looks a chance to be dismissed almost anytime the ball isn’t angling to leg.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:37am
      Christo the Daddyo said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:37am | ! Report

      Bancroft’s stats this series are almost identical to Steve Smith’s. He has an average of 30, which while not great, is not a disaster either. And remember that Bancroft was the standout Shield option before he was selected for the Test. So I’m not sure that a handful of good performances at Shield level should mean Australia rushes over Renshaw mid-series against the best bowling attack in the world.

      And if we’re in such a hurry to ditch Bancroft, why not the same for Smith?

      • March 12th 2018 @ 7:52am
        danwain said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        Does this ludicrous question even require answering?

        Ok ill try, Bancroft has not had any scores of note across the ashes and now the first 2 tests of this series. He scored 80 odd in the second innings of the first ashes test where the pressure valve seemed to be off.

        Smith averaged close to 100 in the ashes, yes he hasn’t got any big scores in the past 2 tests.

        Does that make any sense to you at all?

        • March 12th 2018 @ 8:46am
          jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:46am | ! Report

          You may wish to add that he is the no.1 ranked batsman in the world and a couple of tests ago his form was such that it ranked him the 2nd best in history I think.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 9:57am
          Duncan Smith said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          I will refute your argument with the following: Cameron Bancroft has the same initials as Charles Bannerman, Australia’s first ever centurion. He scored a century in the first ever test in 1877. Therefore, Bancroft should never be dropped – to honour Bannerman’s memory.

          Case closed.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 12:46pm
            Big Daddy said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

            CB.
            Same initials as Charles Bronson and Corey Bernardi.
            Who’d thought.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 8:48am
        jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        Except Christo Bancroft wasn’t really the standout Shield option. Maxwell had scored a lot of runs this season too, batting at 3. And Bancroft was coming off an ordinary season IIRC.

        Bancroft was one of the best this season, but not by a lot.

        • Roar Rookie

          March 12th 2018 @ 9:52am
          Pedro The Fisherman said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

          Maxwell to open? Now that would be funny.
          When will it all end!

          • March 12th 2018 @ 11:43am
            jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:43am | ! Report

            Who said Maxwell to open?

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 10:22am
          Rellum said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

          When he was picked he was the standout.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 12:41pm
          Chris Kettlewell said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

          Standout in the Shield is referring to the 3 matches prior to the first Ashes test I’m guessing. In that case Bancroft was very clearly the stand-out. After that he didn’t play any more, so it’s hard to then be comparing him to guys scoring runs in subsequent matches like Maxwell.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 9:57am
        Nudge said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        That is probably the most ridiculous comment I’ve read on the roar in 5 years that one from Christo. Some people just have no idea.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 11:21am
        Christo the Daddyo said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        I see everyone’s responded in the predictable reactionary way without actually engaging their brains.

        When Bancroft was selected he was the obvious choice. This was based on a sustained level of performance at Shield level. I’m talking about the opening position, not batting down the order (to refute your point jameswm).

        Has Bancroft absolutely nailed down his spot? No. has he been a disaster? I would argue no. So do we really want to ditch him after a few games for someone who has strung a handful of good performances at Shield? What happens if that happens and Renshaw can’t make the jump up to Test standard immediately? Do we ditch him as well for someone else? How quickly do we cut someone?

        Smith has performed outstandingly as a batsman over the past few years. But he’s looked a shadow of himself on this tour and looks to be struggling against a specific type of bowling. How long does he get to prove that he can work on that issue and regain his previous form?

        • March 12th 2018 @ 3:02pm
          Fergus said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

          Smiths had one poor test, give him a break and he got a good bowl. his issue against left arm spin arises because he tries to sweep them and he isn’t a great sweeper (against right arm spinners it isn’t as much of an issue as it hits outside the line) and he plays back when he should play foward, both issues can be quite easily solved by a change of mindset. if it’s on a good length always come forward, don’t cut unless it’s short and wide and don’t sweep unless its way down leg. smith played Jadeja very well in india and he was man of the series so he was obviously bowling well, that shows it’s nothing to do with his technique but just poor shot selection.

          The difference between Renshaw and Bancroft is one has succeeded at an international level, the other hasn’t. One has scored a century, the other hasn’t. One has just scored 3 consecutive 100’s, the other hasn’t scored one in his past 8 matches.

          You ask good questions but the reality is averaging 26 after 7 tests is poor. It’s not a disaster but its bad enough that if he is dropped he shouldn’t be complaining. He has a technical flaw and it’s being exposed, mitch marsh, steve smith and matt renshaw, are good examples of how time away from national duties allows one to fix those issues. Shane Watson is a good example of what happens if you don’t get that time.

          There’s a standard of performance as a national player your expected to adhere to, if you don’t meet it someone else should be given a go, simple as that. If i was averaging 50+ in the shield and i asked the selectors why i hadn’t been picked and there answer was the other guy hasn’t been a disaster i wouldn’t be too impressed. As far as i’m concerned most shield batters can average around about 25 with the bat if given the opportunity, i.e. Moises Henriques

          • March 12th 2018 @ 3:20pm
            Christo the Daddyo said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

            Your point about the difference between Renshaw and Bancroft is technically correct, but quite misleading don’t you think? At the time of his axing, Renshaw looked completely at sea. He peaked early and declined pretty rapidly. Bancroft (I think) is slowly improving. Second top score in the first innings in this Test match. Is he where we would all like him to be? No, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get there. Theoretically this is where his opening partner should play a hugely important role. If Warner could ditch the aggro and childish name calling and concentrate on batting himself and mentoring his partner, I see no reason why the two of them can’t grow into a pretty useful opening partnership. But if the selectors are going to ditch players because they don’t have a 50 average from the get go, we won’t ever see it happen!

            • March 12th 2018 @ 4:51pm
              Jake said | March 12th 2018 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

              I think Bancrof tis slowly, but surely improving

            • March 12th 2018 @ 6:09pm
              Fergus said | March 12th 2018 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

              I get what your saying and it’s a fair point but there comes a point where you just have to stop giving more chances and drop a player if they’re not performing. I’d probably give him one more chance because he seems to have improved with a fifty and runs in difficult conditions but unless the next pitch is a nightmare anything less then a fifty i’d drop him. The major concern i have is his technical issue.

              you are right that most players aren’t going to walk into the team and average 50 but what you’ll find is that most players who later succeed or show promise from the get go tend to either be

              A) very inconsistent but score big (shaun marsh)
              B) get alot of fifties ( steve smith)

              steve smith before he scored his first century had 5 half centuries in 20 innings (1 in 4 innings)
              david warner had 3 centuries and 8 halfies, 11 in 40 (1 in 4) when his average was at it’s lowest point (36).
              Jacques Kallis – had 10 centuries and 25 fifties at one point (1 in 3), 2 and 5 when he was averaging 30 (1 in 4.5) and after 10 innings 1 fifty and 1 century (1 in 5) after 25 innings he was 1 and 3 (1 in 6) averaging 25.
              ponting 35 inning 2 centuries 7 fifties ave 36 (1 in 4) after 10 innings 0 and 3 (1 in 3) ave 33.

              Hopefully the above illustrates my point. you either prove you can make big scores (centuries) or are very consistent but can’t quite get there, the improvement then arises because players fix one of these issues.

              to put it into perspective bancroft has 2 fifties in 12 innings abit like kallis but unlike kallis he isn’t an allrounder and hasn’t scored a century. Also interestingly enough kallis had 3 40’s and a 39 where he faced over 100 deliveries which if counted as fifties would give the ratio (1 in 3) which just so happens to be near identical to his career ratio. Also renshaw’s stats are av 36 and 1 hundred 3 fifties in 18 inning (1 in 4) so good signs.

              Bancroft could prove me wrong but the signs aren’t good.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 9:02am
      Onside said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Any idea what percentage of cricket fans are able to watch this series.

      I reckon most fans, like me, would only see the highlights on the news.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 9:21am
        concerned supporter said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        Pretty easy, Onside,
        Equates to the penetration by Foxtel to the number of dwellings in Australia. It is supposed to be 30%.
        Super Rugby has the same problem, the majority of Australians do not get to watch it.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 9:28am
          Onside said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          Thanks ‘CS’

        • March 12th 2018 @ 9:51am
          jameswm said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          What percentage of rugby fans have Foxtel though? I’d guess > 30%.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 11:33am
          Marshall said | March 12th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          2 Sports I would love to watch but refuse to shell out $40-50 a month purely for sports.

          Can’t wait for Fox to have a modern pricing model and packages.

          • March 12th 2018 @ 12:19pm
            Rissole said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

            Foxtel Now mate. Much cheaper and can watch anywhere.

      • Columnist

        March 12th 2018 @ 12:07pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

        Unfortunately Onside I think very few Australian fans are getting to see this series which is a real pity as it’s already offered more nourishment than the entire Ashes did.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2018 @ 12:13pm
          spruce moose said | March 12th 2018 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

          Absolutely.

        • March 12th 2018 @ 3:51pm
          Linphoma said | March 12th 2018 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

          What gets me is my working hours. 5 am alarm means I only get to watch a bit of the second session before turning in. And I am only watching courtesy of a generous mate who lets me use his Foxtel login -shh, oops, are their media police around?

    • March 12th 2018 @ 9:05am
      Buddy holly said | March 12th 2018 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      Good points. I prefer the left and right handed combination opening pair. That’s not enough to justify Bancrofts selection over Renshaw!. He is acclimatised and is used to the SA blowing attack. Let him finish the series and reassess.

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