Marsh struggling, Renshaw on fire in England

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    Matt Renshaw and Travis Head are having decent county seasons over in England, but current Test batsman Shaun Marsh and former Test all-rounder Hilton Cartwright are labouring.

    The 34-year-old Marsh, who looks cemented in the Test team after the one-year bans handed to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, has made 203 runs at 29 for Glamorgan in Division Two.

    Cartwright, meanwhile, has greatly reduced his chances of making next year’s Ashes tour by averaging a paltry eight with the bat from six matches. The West Australian has incredibly scored five ducks from just nine innings.

    What makes his struggles even worse is that they’ve come in Division Two of the County Championship, which is significantly weaker than Division One. In six first-class matches in England this season, the 26-year-old has made just 78 runs at an average of 8. To put that into perspective, last season in Division Two, Australian fast bowler James Pattinson played five matches and crunched 197 runs at 49.

    Cartwright is going through a nightmare patch in first-class cricket. He was averaging more than 50 in the longest format when he played his two Tests last year – the first at home against Pakistan and the second in Bangladesh.

    Since then, however, he has averaged just 24 with the bat across 16 first-class matches.

    Hilton Cartwright of Australia bowls

    Head, meanwhile, may well have ascended in the Test batting queue over the past month. The 24-year-old South Australian is the 11th highest runscorer in Division One, with 291 runs at 36 – an unspectacular but solid return given the often bowler-friendly conditions in the early stages of the season.

    This is also Head’s first proper stint in the County Championship so his results are encouraging given how often Australian batsmen struggle to adapt to English conditions when they first encounter them.

    His run haul would be substantially larger if he had managed to capitalise on more of his frequent good starts for Worcestershire. In nine innings, he has made six scores of between 29 and 62. While he would no doubt be frustrated by having wasted so many chances to kick on, it’s a decent problem to have – getting a start in English conditions is a tough task.

    It’s also a good sign given that the biggest knock on Head’s batting at first-class level is a perceived leaky defence. I must admit that it was for this reason I thought Head would battle to make runs in England but so far he’s been quite impressive.

    While Head is yet to be picked in an Australian Test squad, he’s long seemed earmarked as a potential Test player and has played 44 limited overs matches for Australia. He can’t be far away from Test selection given his consistency in the Sheffield Shield, having scored between 641 and 738 runs in each of the past four Shield seasons.

    During that time he’s made 2745 runs at 40 in the Shield, including seven tons.

    Travis Head of Australia celebrates after scoring a century

    Directly above Head, in tenth spot on the Division One runscorers’ list, with 305 runs at 51, sits incumbent Test opener Renshaw.

    In his first season of county cricket the 22-year-old has set the competition alight, scoring two tons in his first three knocks. At the time, batsmen across England were struggling in the seaming conditions, yet Renshaw made batting look elementary for Somerset.

    First, he made 101* from 139 balls, out of a Somerset total of 202 in what was a low-scoring match. Then he took apart Yorkshire’s highly-rated attack, hammering 112 from 99 balls

    To understand just how remarkable an innings that was, consider that the team totals across the match were only 216, 96, 200 and 202.

    This continues Renshaw’s run of hot form in first-class cricket over the past six months, having piled up 1023 runs at 60 in that time, including five tons.

    His ability to flourish in English conditions bodes well for next year’s Ashes, during which Renshaw looks set to have a crucial role of trying to blunt James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

    Meanwhile, seamers Peter Siddle and Joe Mennie are keeping themselves in contention for the Ashes with good performances in Division One. Siddle has taken 20 wickets at 16, while Mennie has grabbed 16 wickets at 21 and been a surprise packet with the blade, notching two half-centuries amid a haul of 141 runs at 35.

    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 (61)

    • May 17th 2018 @ 9:03am
      Harry said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      Very good news on Renshaw. Old school opening bat. Is Peter Handscomb over there?

      • Columnist

        May 17th 2018 @ 11:12am
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        Handscomb hasn’t played any county matches so far this season but I’m sure I read somewhere that he’ll be playing in some part of the season – perhaps just in their One Day competition, which he dominated last year.

    • Roar Guru

      May 17th 2018 @ 9:09am
      JamesH said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      I’m not shocked Renshaw is flourishing but it’s a nice surprise to see Head batting comfortably. As you say, he’s not seen to be particularly good against the moving ball. Maybe it’s something he’s been working on?

      An alternative explanation is that Head struggles more against full, swinging deliveries at pace (135kmph+) than he does against the gentler seamers he’s probably facing in England. He gets bowled a lot because he tends to stay leg side of the ball to open up the off side. It’s hard to play a full inswinger from that position.

      Whatever the case, good on him.

    • May 17th 2018 @ 9:16am
      Adam said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      Ronan finch averaged 47 over there for 4 years head hasn’t done that good Renshaw outstanding considering he opens the batting Cartwright always new when he averaged over 50 he would end up averaging under 36 just like everyone else it’s at 38 and marsh is crap

    • May 17th 2018 @ 9:17am
      Jameswm said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Is Maxwell not going? Playing IPL?

      Joey Burns should be there too.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 17th 2018 @ 9:19am
      Tom VDS said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      Renshaw showing the talent that he has, and why he probably shouldn’t have been dropped in the first place. Those two hundreds would give him heaps of confidence knowing that in English conditions he can score freely or stonewall if needed, depending on the conditions and situation. Good traits to have as an opener

      Head is putting together a strong case for at least inclusion in the test squad. I don’t think he will be picked at the beginning of next summer, but if he keeps putting scores on the board, maybe he’s a chance against Sri Lanka if things don’t go well against India?

      • Columnist

        May 17th 2018 @ 11:15am
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        I actually think being dropped from the Test team did Renshaw the world of good.

        He had a major technical issue at the time and was batting horridly but then over the course of the next 5-6 Shield games he was able to work on that and make significant improvements which have since seen him dominating.

        Better he did that tinkering in the lower-pressure environment of the Shield than amid an Ashes series.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 17th 2018 @ 1:12pm
          Tom VDS said | May 17th 2018 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

          In hindsight absolutely getting dropped has given him a huge boost. Watching his highlights for Somerset, he looks a completely different player. Matt Renshaw, getting off the mark with a six against Yorkshire!

          Personally I would have backed him at the time, but no doubt what he has worked on during his time away from the limelight of test cricket is paying off and will hopefully hold him in good stead for the next English summer

      • May 17th 2018 @ 11:57am
        jameswm said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        Can’t agree on Head. His performances are still only middling.

        Bancroft/Smith/Warner are back by then (Ashes) aren’t they? Renshaw might have cemented one opener spot and Warner would take the orther. Bancroft would have to bide his time, unless he gets it ahead of Warner or Burns. Or one of them bats 3.

        • Columnist

          May 17th 2018 @ 1:40pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

          I’m not a huge fan of Head as a red ball batsman, I’ve always felt he’s a tad loose.

          But he’s been very consistent in the Shield, without being outstanding, and is acquitting himself decently in county – averaging 36 in Division 1 early in the season during the bowler-friendly period of the season is a solid effort for an Aussie in his first proper FC season in England.

          • May 17th 2018 @ 2:01pm
            bearfax said | May 17th 2018 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

            Not sure what it is that worries me about Head. Perhaps that he’s been at times given an open door by selectors for a few years now without seeming to deserve the opportunities over other young bright batsmen. Maybe also the fact that he was brought into grade very early and was given the captaincy of South Australia, again without being the standout in his side. And yes I recognise that captains dont have to be the best players.

            This English season may be the making of him and he is still only 24. But I would just like to see some consistency and big scoring before i’m won over. His last Shield season was certainly a step in the right direction. Just hope he’s selected on performance and not on the favours of some who just think he’s the next big thing. If he breaks out and becomes a strong mid 40s first class cricketer over the next 2 years, then great, because we need some steady consistent bastmen in the side now that Smith, Warner and Bancroft and been exiled.

            • Columnist

              May 17th 2018 @ 2:45pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

              “But I would just like to see some consistency and big scoring before i’m won over.”

              Head’s consistency is actually good in FC cricket in my opinion – he’s now had four solid Shield seasons in a row, making between 641 and 738 runs in each of those seasons at averages of between 37 and 46.

              He just hasn’t had that big breakout season yet where he’s made 800+ runs at a 55+ average.

              Last summer was his best yet with 738 runs at 46.

              • May 17th 2018 @ 5:22pm
                Nudge said | May 17th 2018 @ 5:22pm | ! Report

                Last season though he scored a lot of cheap runs. Failed miserably in the first innings then pulled out a big score score in the second innings when South Australia were chasing 350 plus and virtually dead in the water. I’d be interested to see what his first innings average was compared to his second innings last season. He needs to have a shield season next year where he scores runs in the first innings when the game is alive

              • Columnist

                May 17th 2018 @ 6:05pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

                You’re off the mark there Nudge – Head made 345 runs at an average of 43 in the first innings in the Shield last summer.

                In his 8 Shield matches he played three very good 1st innings knocks:

                – 132 against QLD

                – 80 out of a team total of 141 against Tasmania.

                – 67 after SA were 3-18 against a gun Vic attack of Siddle, Tremain, Boland, Ahmed and Christian.

              • May 17th 2018 @ 11:06pm
                Nudge said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:06pm | ! Report

                Well I got that wrong didn’t I Ronan. It was just a gut feel. Just looking at the stats though after Xmas he scored 40 runs in the first innings at 17 compared to 277 second innings runs at 92.

              • May 17th 2018 @ 11:26pm
                Nudge said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:26pm | ! Report

                Good maths. Try 40 runs at 13

              • Columnist

                May 19th 2018 @ 9:27pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | May 19th 2018 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

                Another way to consider a batsman’s consistency at FC level is to look at how often they pass 50.

                These are career figures for number of innings-per-50+ score

                Patterson …… passes 50 every 3.1 innings

                Burns ………… passes 50 every 3.4 innings

                Head …………. passes 50 every 3.5 innings

                Handscomb … passes 50 every 3.5 innings

                Renshaw …… passes 50 every 4.2 innings

                Cartwright ….. passes 50 every 4.2 innings

                Lehmann …… passes 50 overy 4.2 innings

                Head just needs to find that key to kicking on once he makes a start and then he’ll become a drastically-better FC batsman. That’s a much easier task than finding a way to get starts more often.

              • May 19th 2018 @ 9:58pm
                BurgyGreen said | May 19th 2018 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

                Patterson’s conversion issues are very Rootesque. He’s been quietly solid for several seasons now, hopefully in 18/19 we finally get that big genuine breakout one where he can convert his classy 50s into big tons.

              • Columnist

                May 20th 2018 @ 2:40pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | May 20th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                For a guy of Patterson’s talent to only have 5 FC tons from 50 matches is crazy.

                Yet he still averages 41 in FC cricket despite not boosting his average with those big scores, so once/if he finds the key to converting those 50s into tons he’ll be churning out runs.

              • May 20th 2018 @ 3:38pm
                bearfax said | May 20th 2018 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                Ronan, I hope young Patterson hasnt been getting too chummy with that other should be star Maddison. Sheesh what a waste of talent Nic has turned out to be. I thought he was destined for test stardom. Patterson seems to be following the trend. Hope this coming Shield season we see a resurgence of that talent from young Kurt.

              • Columnist

                May 20th 2018 @ 5:07pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | May 20th 2018 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

                I’m not sure what you mean by that Bearfax – Patterson is much more consistent and much more disciplined in his batting than Maddinson.

                Patterson had a rough start to his FC career – he averaged 28 in each of his first two proper Shield seasons.

                But since then he’s been prolific, scoring 2,324 runs at 46 in FC cricket. He’s been very consistent in that time – last summer was a down season for him yet he still averaged a solid 37, which is a mark of his consistency.

                But his lack of tons is holding him back from pushing for a Test spot – it’s those big scores that win you a baggy green, not consistent 50s.

              • May 20th 2018 @ 5:18pm
                bearfax said | May 20th 2018 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

                You would recall that Maddison at one stage had a comfortable 40 + average and was going gangbusters. In fact he has played a couple of tests and I recall he had an outstanding Aus A side performance about 5 years back. He was the next big thing at one stage. But for whatever reason his form slumped year by year and his average has now slipped to around 35. Still plays the outstanding innings from time to time buthis consistency is out the window now.

                When Maddison was younger he was just as special looking as Patterson is now. But he didnt go on with it. I just worry a little that after being in the top 3 batsmen behind the test side, Patterson has been slipping despite his consistency. He needs to hit a succession of big scores and force the selectors to have a good look at him. With Smith, Warner and Bancroft out for a while this should have been his big chance for a test spot.

    • May 17th 2018 @ 9:36am
      Paul said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      I’m not sure what to make of this article. It’s a useful update on where things stand right now but we’re not playing Test cricket in England for another 12 months and lots can happen between now and then.

      I guess the takeaways are;

      .Renshaw needs to confirm he is the senior Test opener by carrying this form back to the Australian summer.
      .Ditto with Head as a possible inclusion if he keeps his form going
      .Shaun Marsh is no lock for a Test spot, unless he has a great start to the Shield season.
      .Cartwright can forget about playing for Australia unless he has a couple of outstanding seasons

      The sad thing is how few Aussie guys are playing 4 day cricket over there. There’s going to be plenty playing T20 but our issues are in the longer formats.

      • Columnist

        May 17th 2018 @ 11:20am
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        I disagree, Shaun Marsh is absolutely a lock for the next Tests because he’s now Australia’s equal-most experienced batsman alongside Khawaja.

        Having just lost by far their two most experienced batsmen Warne and Smith, leaving them with a green batting lineup, Australia won’t quickly jettison a guy in Marsh who has experience playing Tests in six different countries.

        • May 17th 2018 @ 12:59pm
          Paul said | May 17th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

          Yeah, but he needs to score runs. He had a very ordinary tour of SA and is now struggling against Division Two attacks in England. Granted they’ve only played 4 games and he’s got a hundred, but he has to get runs in Shield to be a lock.

          • Columnist

            May 17th 2018 @ 2:23pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

            Shaun Marsh’s Shield performances won’t come into the equation as Australia’s next Test squad will be picked in September for the October Tests in the UAE against Pakistan.

            If he’s fit Marsh will be in that squad, I have zero doubt. If he fails in that series that’s when he will come under real pressure, especially if someone highly-fancied like Head is piling up runs in the Shield.

        • May 17th 2018 @ 2:06pm
          bearfax said | May 17th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

          Over the next Shield season, the selectors will hopefully see young Jake Doran come of age and threaten for a test spot. Had an excellent last Shield season and always promised much. I was worried first class cricket though was just a level to far for him. Lets hope that the 18-19 season surpasses even his last Shield effort. If so he’d be much in the mind for selection for tests one would think. But like Head, he needs to produce the goods.

          • Columnist

            May 17th 2018 @ 2:26pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

            Hopefully Doran can back up with another good Shield season this summer.

            He was massively impressive last season and, like Renshaw, just looks built for Test cricket.

            • May 17th 2018 @ 3:03pm
              BurgyGreen said | May 17th 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

              He definitely needs a solid second season, and I wouldn’t be looking to rush him into the Test side. He’s still very young and initially struggled hard with the step up to Shield level. I reckon it’s much better if he masters his game at domestic level before being exposed to international attacks.

              • Columnist

                May 17th 2018 @ 3:46pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | May 17th 2018 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                I agree. Australia should back in Renshaw and Burns to open for the next 10 months while Warner and Bancroft are out and then re-assess the situation at that point.

                No need to rush Doran.

              • May 18th 2018 @ 10:28am
                BurgyGreen said | May 18th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

                Definitely think Burns and Renshaw are the ones to go with. What worries me is that CA didn’t give Burns a contract, which suggests he’s not getting much rope.

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