Reliable Renshaw starts summer in style

Test opener's substance-over-style approach pays off in his first match of the 2017-18 summer

Barring some unforeseen circumstance, Matthew Renshaw will top Australia's team list alongside his more diminutive opening partner David Warner when the Ashes begin in a little under two months at the Gabba. 

It's a testament to the way he's transitioned to the elite level that such a statement can be so definitively made in September, and the qualities that have made it so – a level head and a capacity for making runs – were on display once again at Brisbane's Allan Border Field on Friday. 

Contrary to his garrulous nature, Renshaw is a quiet accumulator of runs. Even in one-day cricket, the left-hander is selective; he leaves more regularly than most and is not easily tempted into a rush of blood. 

Usman Khawaja partnered him at the top of the Bulls' order in pursuit of the Cricket Australia XI's 7-279 – a total they managed to overhaul with four wickets and nine balls to spare late on a blindingly hot Friday afternoon. 

Match highlights: Queensland v CA XI

When on song, Khawaja is one of the finest stroke-makers in the game, and the early indications were that today might have been his day. It was a period in which Khawaja's aesthetics contrasted dramatically with Renshaw's; the latter has focused on substance over style since national selectors took a gamble on him 10 months ago, and to great effect. 

"It felt quite scratchy out there – it wasn't an easy pitch to get in on," Renshaw said after play. "The CA XI bowled very tight and didn't give us much early, so it was more of a forcing, grinding innings. 

"But to get some runs in the first game of the season is always important. It's something to build on over the next few weeks."

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In mid-30 degree temperatures, the Yorkshire-born batsman was unruffled, settling into a comfortable rhythm in the middle overs of Queensland's run chase, his preferred method of scoring a punched single down the ground. 

Loose balls were few and far between from an impressive young CA XI attack but when they came in Renshaw's direction they were swatted away like bothersome flies. He is an imposing figure at the crease and likely to become more so, considering he is still only 21. 

He had spoken with the media in the build-up about securing his spot for the Ashes with an early-season hundred. And while the first part of that statement offered the cursory dose of humility, the latter was a clear expression of his prime focus: runs, and plenty of them. 

He raised a half-century from a sedate 74 balls and was continuing on his merry way when Marnus Labuschagne (another opposite to Renshaw in his busy, almost manic approach in the middle) conspired to run-out his well-set teammate. 

Byrant, Pengelley fire for the Cricket Australia XI

Renshaw, who had looked immovable for two hours, made a painstakingly slow exit toward the Stuart Law stand, his hopes of a century dashed. 

"It would've been great to score a hundred," he conceded after play. "It's been a while since I scored a hundred so I'm definitely itching to get the three-figures, but it's a good start." 

The young opener had calculated pre-match he had a dozen opportunities to make runs before the Ashes. With today's 67, made from a leisurely 97 balls, he will head into Sunday's match against South Australia knowing he's well placed after his first outing of a new season.