Magellan Ashes 2017-18

Renshaw backed by 'inner sanctum'

Test teammates say embattled opener should hold his spot for the Ashes

Louis Cameron at Allan Border Field

15 November 2017, 09:04 PM AEST

Test spinner Nathan Lyon has given Matthew Renshaw a massive vote of confidence, declaring the struggling opener has the support of Australia’s "inner sanctum".

Presumed a lock for the Magellan Ashes opener after an encouraging start to his Test career, Renshaw has managed just 70 runs in six innings for Queensland through three JLT Sheffield Shield games to start the season.

Renshaw falls cheaply again in Brisbane

Former Test opener Chris Rogers has been among those to suggest Renshaw could face the axe for next Thursday's first Magellan Ashes Test at the Gabba, especially after uncapped Western Australian Cameron Bancroft posted a monster 228 not out on Tuesday following his twin half-centuries against a star-studded NSW attack last week.

But Lyon was unequivocal in backing Renshaw to hold his spot in the squad that is set to be announced Friday, pointing out he struck a majestic 184 against Pakistan in Australia's most recent Test at home.

Both the off-spinner and Queensland captain Usman Khawaja said the 21-year-old should consider himself a little unfortunate in this match, having been out to a questionable caught-behind decision in the first innings while he was lucklessly caught down the leg-side in the Bulls’ second dig.

Renshaw still searching for runs ahead of Ashes

"The last Test he played in Australia, he got 180," Lyon told reporters after NSW's six-wicket win inside three days in Brisbane.

"I'm not a selector but I like Matt. I'm a big fan of Matt Renshaw.

"He's a class batter, he got unlucky in two dismissals here.

"Playing cricket for Australia, you're going to come under scrutiny from media and the public.

"But if you're in the inner sanctum, if you've got the support - which he does - then usually you can get out of that (negative) headspace and perform well."

There was intrigue this morning at Allan Border Field as Renshaw, who made 16 and 1 across the first two days of the Bulls' Shield game, padded up and took on Australia's expected first Test pace quartet in a hostile net session while Queensland batted.

Despite his recent returns with the bat, the left-hander looked poised against the likes of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, who were bowling flat out and didn't hesitate in testing him with a series of searing bouncers.

"(It was) the perfect practice to go out there and face the best bowlers in the world," said Lyon.

Lyon is himself no stranger to the harsh media scrutiny that comes with a form slump. The spinner was close to losing his spot in the Test side last summer when selectors made a swag of changes in the wake of Australia's fifth straight defeat.

Bird faces a delivery from paceman Jackson Bird // Getty
Renshaw faces a delivery from paceman Jackson Bird // Getty

And the 29-year-old called on his national teammates to rally around both Renshaw and any other player who finds himself under the microscope in the five-Test series against England.

"It can be difficult," said Lyon. "But as I said, if you've got the support around the inner sanctum, and the players and the coaching staff (then) the media can write what they want, the public can think what they want.

" ... you've got positive energy around the team ... I know there will be positive energy, there will be excitement, there will be a lot of support for everyone.

"There's going to be times through this whole Test series where everyone is going to be placed under pressure. It's just about how we bounce back and be resilient and try to put the Poms under pressure. And make them feel as uncomfortable as possible.

"It's a massive summer and I can't wait."

Khawaja, who struck a pair of half-centuries against the Blues this week and looks set to resume his spot at No.3 for the first Test, was confident Renshaw would find form.

"He's a very good player," said Khawaja.

"Cricket is one of those games where it goes up and down but it always goes in circles no matter who you are.

Khawaja continues good form with another fifty

"He's got a few good starts and a couple of unlucky dismissals. That's just cricket.

"I'm sure he'll turn it around." 

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