Selector Waugh gives tick to Test debutants

Waugh praises Handscomb and Renshaw, while suggesting it would be 'harsh' to criticise Maddinson for his dismissal

National selector Mark Waugh has given Australia's three exciting young debutants the big tick of approval but saved his highest praise for 20-year-old Matt Renshaw.

Former captain and selector Allan Border was staggered by criticism of Renshaw's slow going – after the opener needed 46 balls to make 10 runs in the first innings and then 170 for his unbeaten 34 in the second dig of Australia's third Test win over South Africa.

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But Waugh and Border agreed that Renshaw could hardly have done better after he negotiated the crucial first dozen overs under lights with the South African pace attack whizzing the ball around in search of a vital early wicket on night one in Adelaide.

"The thing is, it won't get any harder than that. That's as hard as it's going to be for him in his Test career," Waugh said on Inside Cricket.

"The ball, batting at night was so difficult and then Kyle Abbott was bowling so beautifully and he (Renshaw) concentrated very well.

"He looked nervous in his first Test, but he hung in there great."

Border "couldn't believe" the flak Renshaw received for his slow strike rate.

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"Because he did what he's very good at, which is leaving the ball, batting time, eating up a lot of balls and setting it up for the rest of the batting order," Border said.

"He did a really good job at a very important time when he went in late on day one, got through that, so that was a big tick for that.

"Then obviously in the second innings, he had a bit of a struggle. But the ball was doing a bit, in his defence, and I just reckon he did a really good job. Batted time, batted us into a really good position.

"For a 20-year-old to bat with that composure, I thought was excellent."

Peter Handscomb, who caressed the winning run on day four, also received rave reviews following his quickfire 54 in his first dig, not to mention impressing with his sharp fielding.

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"(He) took that catch (to dismiss South Africa captain Faf du Plessis) and then his batting he looked really confident," said Waugh.

"He probably came in at the right time when the spinners were on but I liked his intent, his footwork.

"He wasn't scared of getting out. That shows a lot of confidence. A big stage to come in on and he's got to 50 off about 70-odd balls, used his feet beautifully. That shows that he's got belief in his technique.

"I mean, they were going on about his (unconventional) technique on Channel Nine, but everybody's different ... He batted well enough to get a hundred."

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Waugh was unconcerned about Nic Maddinson's 12-ball duck after falling victim to a cracking delivery from Kagiso Rabada.

"It was a tough time to bat," he said.

"Maybe he can just learn from that a little bit, be a little bit more sharper.

"He was nervous obviously, but you can't be too harsh on that dismissal."

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Maddinson however understands his spot in the Test side isn’t secure, especially with the likes of Shaun Marsh and Adam Voges breathing down his neck.

"I wouldn't say I feel safe. I'm under no illusions as to what happens in cricket teams, I'm pretty realistic," Maddinson told Fairfax.

"I realise Shaun Marsh missed the last two Test matches because of injury and not through form. Adam Voges was hit on the head last game and wasn't available for selection. I'm realistic and I know how cricket works.

"Those guys will be looking to come back into that team."

Maddinson said he regretted his "lazy" footwork in his debut and has vowed to get a century in NSW's pink-ball Sheffield Shield match at the Adelaide Oval next week.

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"If I'm not involved in the next Test team I understand why, but for me I have to go out and score a hundred this shield game," Maddinson said.

"I don't think there's any other way to put it. I won't be satisfied with anything less than a hundred – that has to be my mindset. It is about winning the game but I know if I can score a hundred that will go a long way to us winning the game.

"I have to be a little bit selfish and put a higher price on my wicket and to lead as a senior batter.

"I wouldn't say it's pressure, it's hunger. I want to score runs, my aim is to score runs, that's what I have to prepare to do."

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