NATHAN Lyon’s selection influence may be toast but the Aussie spinner believes Test opener Matt Renshaw is ready to burn England in the Ashes.
Renshaw’s hopes of retaining his berth at the top of Australia’s batting order received a dramatic boost when he was summoned for a training session with the country’s top fast bowlers.
The towering left-hander has been under the pump following a slow start to the Sheffield Shield season and the emergence of West Australian opener Cameron Bancroft.
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While Queensland’s lower order was attempting to save the game against NSW at Allan Border Field, Renshaw was in the adjacent nets facing a 45-minute blitz from Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird.
The invitation for Renshaw to train with the Test setup while his state team was in the midst of a match bodes well for his selection prospects ahead of next week’s Ashes opener at the Gabba.
And more importantly, Renshaw has some influential figures in his corner.
Lyon, the Test team’s song-master who set off a fire alarm by burning toast, was unequivocal in declaring the 21-year-old had the support of the team’s inner sanctum.
“Last Test Matt Renshaw played in Australia he got 184 (against Pakistan in January),” Lyon said.
“I’m not a selector but I like Matt. I am a big fan of Matt Renshaw.
“He is a class batter. He got unlucky in two dismissals (16 and one) here but I’m a big fan of Matty.
“Playing cricket for Australia, you’re going to come under scrutiny from the media and public. That’s the pressures of international cricket.
“If you’re in the inner sanctum and got the support, which he does, then usually you can get out of that headspace and perform well.
“It’s perfect practice to go out there and face the best bowlers in the world.”
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Renshaw’s place in the Test team has come under the microscope following a slow start to the red ball season which has yielded scores of 17, 16, 1, 19, 16 and 1 – a total of 70 runs at 11.66.
However he has only truly failed to perform his main duty as an opener twice. In his six innings for Queensland Renshaw has faced 42, 70, 16, 109, 38 and three deliveries, spending valuable time at the crease against the new ball.
Wednesday’s machinations suggest Renshaw is firmly in the selectors’ thoughts ahead of Friday’s team announcement and rightly so.
To axe the stoic left-hander purely on Sheffield Shield form after giving him the opportunity to play 10 Tests since debuting a year ago would make little sense.
“He’s a very good player and in the back of his mind I’m sure he knows that,” said Bulls captain Usman Khawaja, who will be recalled to the Test side.
“Cricket is one of those games that goes up and down but always goes in circles no matter who you are.
“He has got a few good starts and unlucky dismissals. I’m sure he’ll turn it around.”
After losing 4-15 early in their run chase, the Blues comfortably mowed down their target of 128 in the final innings to win by six wickets with a day to spare.
There was an unexpected delay to NSW’s inevitable victory when Lyon’s kitchen mishap brought a halt to the match for 20 minutes as the grandstands were evacuated and firefighters arrived.
“It (toast) popped up first and I wasn’t happy (with the toastiness) so I put it back down and got carried away watching the cricket,” Lyon said.
Blues Test duo David Warner (37) and Steve Smith (nine) failed to post big scores in their final hit-outs before the Ashes, particularly skipper Smith who was dismissed playing a poor shot during a short run chase.
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