JLT Sheffield Shield 2017-18
Surreal 24 hours for departing Renshaw
On the eve of turning 22, Queensland's opening batsman experienced perhaps the craziest day of his cricket journey to date
Louis Cameron at AB Field, Brisbane
27 March 2018, 07:22 PM AEST
As Matthew Renshaw makes a quiet toast to himself on his 22nd birthday somewhere over the Indian Ocean tonight, he will likely take a deep breath as he reflects on a surreal day.
And steel himself for what else looms upon his arrival in South Africa.
Having discovered this morning he had been put on standby for Australia's squad for the fourth Test in Johannesburg, Renshaw hastily packed a bag for his flight before setting off for Allan Border Field.
With no idea as to when exactly he would be leaving the country, Renshaw cut himself off from the ongoing crisis he was about to join and handed his phone in to officials at the ground.
Come the afternoon, the left-hander screamed out in joy as he cut Sam Rainbird to the off-side fence to usher in Queensland's first Sheffield Shield crowd in six years.
It capped off a flawless fifth-day batting display from the lanky opener in the final against Tasmania, finishing with an unbeaten 83-ball 81 as the hosts wrapped up a nine-wicket victory.
After play, all he wanted to talk about was about his team's triumph. Instead he got told by a reporter that he was departing on a flight for South Africa via Dubai in just a few short hours.
"Am I? OK, sweet," Renshaw said to laughter.
He added: "I haven’t really been thinking about that, I've just been trying to get my hands on that Shield over there.
"To touch it was one of the greatest feelings of my life.
"It's just a real relief that we've managed to win that and I'm looking to enjoy that success now."
The call-up is an acknowledgement of Renshaw's superb form for Queensland in the second half of the Shield season.
His last eight innings have yielded scores of 170, 12,112, 3, 143 not out, 8, 37, 81 not out, becoming the first Queenslander since Matthew Hayden to notch hundreds in three consecutive Shield games in the same season.
It's a huge turnaround from the first three matches of the summer, when Renshaw couldn't buy a run and was axed from his Test spot before the Ashes as the in-form Cameron Bancroft was installed as David Warner's opening partner.
"I'm a little bit of a different cricketer (now)," Renshaw said. "I wouldn't have ever played that shot over mid-off (for six off Simon Milenko) in the last three years of my career.
"It's (due to) the support of the Queensland Bulls support staff, all of them have been unbelievable since I got dropped.
"I'm pretty happy with how I'm going but it's a different challenge over there in South Africa."
While captain Steve Smith is the only certainty at this stage to miss the final Test in Johannesburg having been suspended by the ICC, more sanctions could follow as Cricket Australia conducts its investigation on the ground in Cape Town.
Renshaw is set to land on Wednesday to centre stage of one the biggest scandals in Australian cricket history. CA will also announce the findings of its investigation on the same day.
He'll have just one full day to get over his jetlag, have a hit in the nets and prepare to potentially face one of the best bowling attacks in the world.
He concedes it'll be the least preparation he's had before playing a Test.
"I'm looking forward to getting back in the Test arena and just expressing myself," Renshaw said. "Seeing where I'm at in terms of my new-found form and hopefully that works. If it doesn't, I'm not putting too much pressure on myself.
"I've just got to think about going out there and batting and playing with a smile on my face."
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Steve Smith, David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test South Africa won by 322 runs. Scorecard
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage