Stubborn Renshaw holds key to Gabba Test
TEST great Matt Hayden believes Matt Renshaw is an essential Ashes selection as the batting buffer needed to snuff out England's attempts to storm fortress Gabba.
Hayden knows well the pressure that has engulfed Renshaw this summer as he attempts to nail down his Test future.
Renshaw has a total of 53 runs from 237 balls in four Shield outings for Queensland in a summer in which he has been existing without expanding.
Hayden believes Renshaw's stubbornness is just what Australia needs against one of the most experienced Test partnerships of all time - Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad who have taken a staggering 894 Test wickets between them.
"Broad and Anderson are quality bowlers and the one scenario Australia does not want is to win the toss and bat and be four wickets down for not many,'' Hayden said.
"But if the scoreboard reads 1-65 at lunch there is every chance that Renshaw has done his job so for me he is a lock in for the first Test.''
Hayden played in many Gabba Tests in which the first morning of play shaped not simply the day or the Test, but the series at a venue at which Australia has not lost at since 1988.
Those rugged pre-lunch sessions were times when strike rates and silkiness mean nothing compared to the one prime skill which bankrolls Renshaw's game - survival.
"If Renshaw can wear down Anderson and Broad who cares if he does so with a strike rate of 30 (runs per 100 balls)?'' Hayden said.
"You have to remember he is in a partnership with David Warner who has a strike rate of 77 and an average of not far below 50 so it is OK to play your own game.''
That said, Hayden knows Renshaw has more to offer than the slightly constricted game he is displaying at the moment as he prepares for the series opener in Brisbane from November 23.
"I relate to what he is going through. You feel the scoreboard pressure and it's a big series you want to be part of. It is one of those stages where it does not come easily,'' Hayden said.
"He has played 10 Tests and is averaging 36. I remember after seven Tests I was averaging 21.
"The trick is to just play his natural game. A lot of the players in and around him will tell you he does have a second or third gear.
"I said to him in India 'there are more options in your game … at the end of the day you have to keep the scoreboard moving'.
"Those gears will naturally come out as his career gathers momentum. My only advice would be to back himself.
"He is hanging in tight. I felt he survived the conditions as well as anyone in India and he has done well given he has played more than half of his Tests in India and Bangladesh which is a lot different to the seaming culture of the Gabba.''