The realisation behind Renshaw's reinvention
Young opener has undergone a dramatic transformation in 2018, and the results to date have been staggering
30 April 2018, 12:11 PM AEST
In-form opener Matthew Renshaw is just starting to realise his potential as an intimidator at the top of the order, says Queensland assistant coach James Hopes.
Renshaw smashed a spectacular 112 from just 99 deliveries for Somerset against Yorkshire on Saturday, his second hundred from as many matches in his maiden county season.
As impressive as the runs are, it is the way they have been scored that has caught the eye of many, with the left-hander transforming himself in 2018 from a relatively dour batsman with limited shots to an aggressive, powerful stroke-maker.
The change in approach has reaped serious dividends.
Prior to the Christmas break last summer, Renshaw made 150 runs in 10 first-class innings at an average of 15 and a strike-rate of 31.32.
In 17 innings in 2018 (including eight overnight in the second innings against Yorkshire), he has plundered 895 runs at 63.93, with a strike-rate of 70.03. The run spree has included five hundreds.
"That second half of the year (in the Sheffield Shield) is as dominant a five, six games as you'll see," Hopes said after Renshaw's unbeaten 81 from 83 balls took Queensland to the Shield title last month, and took the 22-year-old to the top of the competition's run-scorers list for the season (804 at 44.66).
"He's gone to a different level post-Christmas.
"He's made a couple of technical changes and he's figuring out that you can score through the off side."
Hopes played for the Bulls alongside legendary opener Matthew Hayden and believes Renshaw is similarly discovering the advantage of his height as an opening batsman, enabling him to dominate bowlers with a strong stride forward, or by getting over the top of shorter-pitched deliveries that smaller batsmen may struggle to control.
"He's starting to work out that he's physically pretty imposing at the crease," said Hopes, who is currently working under Ricky Ponting at Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League.
"He's not a small guy, and he doesn't have to be timid in the way he bats.
"I think his strike-rate in the back half of the year against the swinging Dukes ball was 65-66, which is pretty impressive for an opener."
The transformation has only continued in England, with his latest effort – a century before lunch on day two after the opening day was washed out – the most emphatic example of his change in strategy yet.
Renshaw returned to the Test team last month in South Africa as a result of the ball-tampering fiasco, and his impressive returns against the Dukes ball in both countries have the Yorkshire-born product an early favourite to keep his top-order place for next year's Ashes in the UK.
Ahead of his debut for Somerset, he talked about that series as a career goal.
"I will embrace every opportunity I get ahead of what could be an Ashes tour next year," he said. "It is important to try to get experience on certain grounds which play differently to others.
"Getting as much experience as I can at such a young age will be really important to those aspirations of playing in the Ashes."