Born in Yorkshire, nine-year-old Matthew Thomas Renshaw dreamt of playing cricket for England some day. However, his family had to move to New Zealand and eventually, they settled in Brisbane when he was ten. Renshaw was destined to play cricket for Australia. He belongs to the current generation; however, unlike other children who are fascinated by the T20 format, he has always admired the highest standard of the game – Test cricket.
Although he was a spectator in the inaugural Twenty20 International (T20I) between New Zealand and Australia in 2005, he has never shown the slightest interest in the glamorous format. He wears the Baggy Green, yet does not have a Big Bash League contract; again, he does not care. He is just 20 and in contrast to the players of his age, he possesses the patience, temperament and technique that is required in a promising Test cricketer.
Following the humiliating losses in the first two Tests against South Africa last year, Cricket Australia made tough calls by axing experienced players like Joe Burns, Peter Neville and Adam Voges and had included uncapped Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson in the final Test. The experiment had immediately worked when Australia had won the Test. Both Renshaw and Handscomb produced impressive batting performances.
Chasing 127 in the final inning, Renshaw remained not out on 34 off 137 balls. Steven Smith had found the trump card in the top-order who had the ability to stick around for a long time. Scoring quick runs was secondary, Australia had the likes of David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh and Handscomb, Renshaw’s role in the team was to play as many balls as possible and by doing so, put the opponents under involuntary pressure.
The 20-year-old in no time has grown immensely as a Test cricketer. Getting accustomed to home conditions is not a task, but for a new Australian batsman showing no signs of struggles on his maiden India tour is commendable. While the Indian spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja must have considered Renshaw an easy trap, he turned out to be the visitors’ best batsman so far on the tour.
After scoring an impressive 68 and 31 in the Pune Test, the young lad has carried the same momentum into the second game as well.
Renshaw waits for the ball, plans his move and then goes for a shot. There have not been many occasions when the youngster might have made a wrong judgement. If the ball passes by him, he relaxes for a second and then takes the next ball afresh. His body language is the evidence of the amount of confidence the opener carries along with his game. He is never in a hurry to reach a landmark. He takes his own sweet time and meanwhile frustrates the bowler.
Although he fell short of a century again on Sunday, his knock of 60 off 196 balls on the Bengaluru track where the best of the batsmen were unable to bat was nothing but remarkable. He ended Day 1 on 15 runs and he batted close to four hours on Day 2 before he reached a half-century; his third in Tests. That knock certainly deserved a standing ovation and his teammates were quick enough to get to their feet when Renshaw reached the 50-mark.
Meanwhile, a frustrated Team India tried everything they could to break Renshaw – Umesh Yadav’s inswingers, Ishant Sharma’s pace and Ashwin’s tricky bowling – nothing worked on the Australian.
Every time Renshaw left a ball bowled by Ishant Sharma, the frustration was clear on the pacer’s face. The Indian skipper Virat Kohli even tried sledging the 20-year-old, but that tactic also failed to crack Renshaw’s concentration. “I was just trying to enjoy it and laugh at what (Kohli) was saying because some of it was quite funny. He was just reminding me to run off and go to the toilet again, which happened in Pune, so it was quite funny,” Renshaw revealed after the end of the second day.
The Queenslander has managed to stick to an old-fashioned style of cricket. He lets his game do all the talking rather than getting involved in verbal spats. Renshaw has preferred to keep himself away from the on-field banters and instead watch it from a distance, enjoy it before getting back to business – scoring runs!