England's Tour of Australia - Men
Recast, recalled Renshaw back on home turf
He's got the Allan Border Field outfield lining his backyard but that's not the only reason why Matthew Renshaw is smiling again
1 December 2021, 12:37 PM AEST
Australia A call-up Matthew Renshaw has changed a lot of things since he last put on the Baggy Green. His boyish enthusiasm for all things cricket is not one of them.
While the whole Queensland squad will be reliving last season's memorable Marsh Sheffield Shield title for years to come, only Renshaw can walk around every day on the turf upon which they lifted the trophy.
The Allan Border Field outfield was ripped up in the off-season as part of a ground renovation. A decent amount of it now lines the backyard of his home in the northern suburbs of Brisbane.
"When they were doing the redevelopments, I joked around with the groundsmen saying, 'What are you doing with the turf? I'll take it'. And they were like, 'Okay then'," Renshaw told cricket.com.au's Unplayable Podcast.
"It took four days to rip it all up. I would never do it again. It was the most strenuous four days I've ever had."
The highlight, at least when it comes to retelling the story, was when the battery of the ute he had borrowed died while it was parked in the middle of AB Field.
Renshaw had to ask members of the nearby Brothers Rubgy Club for some jumper leads so he could get the last of the sacred turf back to his house.
The whole escapade perfectly encapsulates the jaunty approach to the game Renshaw has recaptured in recent times to put himself back in the conversation for a spot in Australia's Test side.
Having flourished in Queensland's all-conquering Shield team in a new middle-order role instead of the opening position he occupied during his first crack at international cricket, the left-hander will line up for Australia A in their four-day match against England Lions in Brisbane next week.
While Steve Waugh has suggested he should also be in contention for the vacant Test No.5 spot, the 25-year-old was delighted and pleasantly surprised at winning a berth in the shadow Australian squad.
It was less than two years ago that Renshaw, axed from Queensland's Shield team, was questioning whether he really wanted to play the game that had been his life since he was a child.
"It was always about, 'If I score runs here I can play Test cricket'. Then I ended up being dropped from the Queensland team and you're a long way from the Test team then," said Renshaw.
"That was probably the part where I've gone, 'Okay, take a step back. Why are you playing cricket?'
"I had some really good conversations with some key people around me about why I'm playing cricket and it all came back to that enjoyment and scoring runs for the fun rather than for what might happen, which you can't control.
"… At times I was trying too hard to perform and it was all about the runs rather than how I was batting. I think that's probably the big part that I've learned, is just to enjoy it.
"You look at most guys' records – (Sachin) Tendulkar scored 50 Test hundreds in 200 Tests, so (three) out of four Tests he is missing out.
"You're not going to get hundreds every game, you're not going to do well every game. You've just got to try to get a bit more consistent."
As his love of the game came flooding back, so did the runs.
Batting down the order for the first time in his first-class career, Renshaw piled on 500 runs at 62.50 including two centuries to help the Bulls clinch last summer's Sheffield Shield crown and advance his own case to add to his 11 Tests.
An unbeaten 120 against Tasmania in October, when his opening skills came in handy against the second new ball, was further evidence of his credentials.
A shot at facing Australia's leading Test quicks in an intra-squad match in Brisbane this week has been dashed by the weather, but Renshaw is confident he is now better equipped to handle the pressures of the top level.
"I think definitely I would be better prepared," said Renshaw of a possible Test recall. "I don't have that naivety of what you do when you play as a 20-year-old.
"Then you come through the tough patches and that's where your game really accelerates and changes. My game has gone through a lot of different changes since my Test debut.
"But I definitely feel like my mental state would be in a better spot now.
"But I also think the technique and the technical changes that I've made over the last couple of years have been really important to that as well."
Vodafone Men's Ashes
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Perth Stadium