Australians amused by Renshaw’s ‘break’

Matt Renshaw was criticised for leaving the scene of action due to a stomach bug - in the middle of his innings during the first Test - and as some of his countrymen said: “He did not show the stomach for a fight.”

Matt Renshaw struck 10 fours and a six in his knock of 68.   -  Reuters

A wisecrack from a seasoned cricket correspondent - soon after 20-year-old left hander Matt Renshaw disappeared through the tunnel exit to the dressing room at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) stadium after Umesh Yadav broke the opening partnership - went like this: “It’s like happy hours for India, buy one and get one free.” The Australian openers, the England-born Renshaw and David Warner had virtually frustrated the Indian attack that saw off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin share the new ball with Ishant Sharma.

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Both Renshaw and Warner showed fierce determination and patience in their act of efficient forward and back play to deal with the spinners - Ashwin, Jayant Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja - before Kohli tossed the ball to fast bowler Yadav in the 28th over. The time before lunch would be taken was about 22 minutes and Australia appeared to have warded of all dangers on a slow wicket, but everyone present at the stadium, including the Indian team, was perplexed by Renshaw talking to his captain Steve Smith who had entered the field following the exit of Warner, then the umpire, and make his way to the dressing room.

Clearly it had to be a stomach bug that seemed to have not affected any visiting player from New Zealand, England and Bangladesh. But once the reason for Renshaw’s exit from the middle was known, the Twitter world got active with many Australians watching television at home expressing their disgust. Former Australian captain Allan Border was the most sarcastic: “I hope he's lying on the table in there half-dead.” Later he told Fox Sports that Renshaw should have played till lunch in spite of an ailment.

Former Australian captain, Michael Clarke, who is here on commentary duty tweeted: “Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.. I had no idea what I was watching!”

Warne “impressed”

After watching Renshaw tackle the Indian spinners, Shane Warne, on commentary duty here, tweeted: “My thoughts before a ball was bowled here in Pune. Very impressed with Renshaw. Ball is spinning like a top, tough for new batsmen to start.” Renshaw was not in the Australian XI that Warne had picked for the opening Test. His team included: Warner, S. Marsh, Smith, Handscombe, Maxwell, Marsh, Wade, Starc, Swepson, Lyon and Hazlewood.

Another former Australian cricketer who decided to vent his opinion was Damien Martyn: He said: “I'm still getting my head around this... J.L. (Justin Lamger) would have lost a limb and still batted on.”

Renshaw’s departure brought left hander Shaun Marsh to the crease and suddenly there were two new batsmen in the middle. Renshaw had begun his innings with an edge off seamer Ishant Sharma on the first ball of the Test, and then worked Ashwin around his pads to pick up a second boundary shot. He had also stepped out to hit left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for a first six of the Test; the ball sailed over the long-on boundary.

Indians have seen 50 Australian left-handers in action India and some of the stoical ones were Allan Border, Simon Katich, Justin Langer, Bill Lawry, and Graham Yallop. Perhaps Renshaw fits into their mould. It was evident that he had worked on a technique in Dubai and while training in Mumbai to face the Indian spinners. He used his height to fully stretch forward, played with soft hands to keep the ball down and also went right back to defend. He appeared assured in the middle until the time he was there some twenty minutes before lunch.

“No stomach for a fight”

Renshaw made his debut against South Africa in the pink-ball Test in Adelaide last year, made 10 and 34 not out and thereafter turned out to be a success against Pakistan - he scored 71 in Brisbane and 184 in Sydney. He had impressed many Australians, but on Thursday he was criticised for leaving the scene of action and as some of his countrymen said: “He did not show the stomach for a fight.”

Thirty years ago, Indians saw a brave Australian Dean Jones, dehydrated largely, stay in the middle to make 210 in the tied Test in Chennai. “I did not want to come out after tea. I was 202 and I was just gone. Simmo (Bob Simpson) and AB just pushed me out and said, ‘You're batting’. When you're urinating in your pants and vomiting 15 times, you've got massive problems. It would not happen now because of litigious players and workplace safety. Should we be playing in 42 degrees? We go off for rain but we don't go off when it's 42,” recalled Jones to a website four years ago.

Here on the first day of the first Test, Renshaw returned to the middle after the fall of Steve Smith’s wicket in the 61st over. Eventually he was dismissed by Ashwin in the 79th over.