David Warner was named man of the match for hitting a jaw-dropping century before lunch on the opening day of the SCG Test against Pakistan and following it up in the second innings with a breathtaking 55 off only 27 balls.
But I was just as taken by the efforts of his opening partner Matt Renshaw for a number of reasons.
When I first saw him play I was a bit dubious about his strike rate, however now I’ve seen him bat – and after facing 656 deliveries (or almost 110 overs) for Australia, he’s given us plenty of time to study his technique.
My initial concern has disappeared as a result of being able to appreciate he accumulates runs over a long period of time.
I can only imagine Renshaw must’ve felt disappointed after he made his debut against South Africa in the day-night Test at Adelaide and heard people criticising him for being “too slow” after he scored 10 runs from 46 deliveries in the first innings and 34 from 137 in the second dig.
What we can appreciate with the benefit of hindsight is he did his job by taking the sting out of the Proteas attack to play an important role in Australia’s morale-boosting seven wickets win.
While Renshaw made a tortoise-like 21 as Warner entered the record books for clouting his pre-lunch ton, the 20-year-old – who was born in Geoff Boycott’s beloved Yorkshire before settling in Australia via New Zealand – proved he’s the perfect foil for ‘Warner the Whirlwind’ by grinding out his break-through 184 from 291 painstaking balls.
When the dust finally settled after Warner’s big knock, many people overlooked the fact Renshaw actually outscored him – the kid just did it differently.
Their partnership is still in its infancy but there’s many indications that suggest they could be Australian cricket’s yin and yang; an embodiment of the Chinese philosophy that acknowledges opposites such as dark and light complement one another.
Warner is the dasher, Renshaw the grinder.
Despite his young age, Renshaw has demonstrated he definitely has the mindset that’s needed to play Test cricket.
In this celebrated era of crash ‘n bash, I like that Matt doesn’t take unnecessary risks, such as slashing wildly.
We all saw – and none more so than Pakistan’s attack – his iron-willed discipline serve him so well in Sydney.
He’s been as equally impressive in showing a ton of maturity to resist any temptation to try and match David Warner’s blistering run-rate.
That’s because he knows his game and is confident enough not to change it – even though it must be obvious to him the crowd and the media have an insatiable appetite for fours and sixes.
While Renshaw’s Test career has enjoyed a positive start , he’s scored a Test century; cracked a half-century; is averaging 63 and has played his part in four Test victories.
Matt is only going to get better as he grows older and fills out.
When I see Renshaw take strike he makes me think of another left-handed Queensland opener who shares his name . . .
Matt Hayden – a mountain of a man who cast an imposing shadow over the pitch as he plundered 8,625 Test runs at a healthy average of 50.73.
Renshaw is still wiry, but he has a frame that will develop into one that wouldn’t look out of place in a rugby team, and mark my words that’s a real plus for him.
It doesn’t matter what you might hear, as a bowler it’s not fun bowling to batsmen who are built like brutes.
Apart from Hayden, Kevin Pietersen is another guy who comes to mind as a big-framed man who is BIG at the crease.
While Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting proved you don’t need to be tall or be packed with muscles to strike a blow, I always thought if a guy came out to bat at number 3 or 4 and he was short ‘n skinny that you could knock them over quite easily.
It wasn’t always the way things panned out – of course – but that was the mindset.
This summer has highlighted Renshaw boasts the temperament, the maturity and the confidence to be an important part of the Australian team.
If he continues to improve, continues to learn and continues to perform I have no doubt that in coming seasons he’ll be affectionately regarded as the boulder of the Australian team . . . just as Dave Warner is seen the destroyer.
In this age of BBL, big bats and the constant demand for batsmen to entertain the crowd with huge scores from very few deliveries, Renshaw is an old-fashioned opener who has made it clear in his first four Tests that he loves taking the shine off the ball.
He delights in torturing the bowlers by offering them nothing and – what should be most obvious to all – he possesses a bulldog-like tenacity that’s matched by his vast reserves of patience.
- Brett Lee, exclusively for Sportsta.