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Renshaw net adds selection intrigue

Under-fire opener put through his paces by Aussie quicks in pre-Ashes net session

Opener Matthew Renshaw looks by no means out of the hunt for a first Test berth after he underwent a taxing examination in the nets from Australia's best fast bowlers on Wednesday morning.

Renshaw, who has made 16 and 1 in Queensland’s ongoing JLT Sheffield Shield match against NSW, batted for the best part of an hour against speedsters Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird in the nets overlooking Brisbane’s Allan Border Field.

Renshaw falls cheaply again in Brisbane

The towering left-hander has made just 70 runs at 11.66 in six hits in first-class cricket this summer but looked composed against Australia's likely first Test attack, none of whom held back in a testing session.

Left-armer Starc at one stage delivered a volley of short balls at Renshaw from around the wicket, while fellow tearaway Cummins also didn't hesitate to use his bouncer.

At the beginning of the Shield season, Renshaw had been presumed to be a certain starter at the Gabba to open the batting with vice-captain David Warner against England.

But the hot form of leading Shield run-scorer Cameron Bancroft has raised doubts over the 21-year-old's position, with former Test opener Chris Rogers yesterday suggesting he wouldn't be surprised to see Renshaw axed for the series-opener.

While the net session is by no means a certain indication that Renshaw will get the nod, the fact he was asked to take on the star quicks with coach Darren Lehmann and team performance chief Pat Howard watching on suggests he remains firmly in national selectors' thinking.

Renshaw impressed after a surprise call-up to the Test side last summer, scoring a maiden century against Pakistan at the SCG and showing glimpses of his mettle on Qantas Tours of India and Bangladesh this year.

Selectors are expected to deliberate on who gets the nod for the first Test today with the squad to be announced on Friday morning.

The panel all but confirmed last week that Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins and Bird will all be included after all four were pulled out of this round of Shield games, with matches also underway at the WACA and the MCG.

The quartet bowled to each other earlier in the week but Cummins indicated they'd been hesitant to let rip with short-pitched bowling to their fellow quicks and were eager find some willing batsmen to bowl to.

Queensland youngsters Angus Lovell and Nathan McSweeney were the lucky duo to get the call-up alongside Renshaw, with the pair of teenagers taking turns to face the best quicks in the country in the opposing net to the incumbent Test opener.

Bulls coach Wade Seccombe has backed Renshaw in to hold his place for the first Test.

"He'd be disappointed that he hasn't got the runs on the board but form-wise, I think he's going ok," Seccombe told reporters on Tuesday.

"He's actually batted really well and batted time … the innings he played down in Hobart was in very tough conditions.

"He put on a partnership of 82 with Joe (Burns). From my end I was rapt with the way he's played. He hasn't got the runs on the board but he's got the time on the board.

"He is very positive around the dressing room, that's for sure. He doesn't really ride the ebbs and flows too much, he's pretty consistent in his behaviour.

"He's one of the fun guys – he's young, he's loud, he's boisterous around the dressing room and that hasn't changed through the good times and the bad times."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

Gillette ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

Gillette T20 INTL Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21