CricViz analyst Freddie Wilde profiles Matt Renshaw.
In 21 year-old Matt Renshaw Australia hope they have found a long-term opening partner for David Warner. Renshaw has made an encouraging start to his Test career after making his debut at the age of 20 last November, scoring three fifties and one century in ten Tests. Renshaw, who is a tall man at 1.85m, is an old-style Test opener whose scoring rate of 2.62 runs per over contrasts him with his aggressive partner Warner. Although Renshaw boasts an average of 63.00 in Australia compared to 25.66 away, and despite having played his two away series in India and Bangladesh, he has exhibited a preference for spin, averaging 51.37 against it, compared to 36.57 against pace. While his debut hundred against a weak Pakistan team in Sydney may be considered as easy runs he showed himself to be a player of real promise with two battling fifties against India in February.
Renshaw’s Test career is still in its infancy but it is telling of the simplicity of his method that patterns in his approach can already be distinguished. Renshaw has established an early reputation as an old-school opening batsman and that is reinforced by shot-type analysis which shows him to play no shot to or defend 60% of all his deliveries (global average 48%) with that figure rising even higher against pace to 69% (global average 50%).
This patient theme runs through Renshaw’s game. During his debut international season he acknowledged that “I generally try and leave well and they get a bit bored and try and attack my stumps” – at which point Renshaw looks to pick deliveries off his pads and score through his favoured on side – something illustrated by his Boundary Heatmap – where he has scored 61% of his runs so far (global average 50%). This preference is also reflected in shot-type analysis which shows the flick, glance and work to have brought him 47% of his runs against pace. Renshaw has also said he is reluctant to play the drive – a shot he considers high-risk – against pace, and he only does so 7% of the time (global average 12%).
Given that Renshaw has only played the pull shot once, the cut shot eight times and never the hook shot, in his admittedly short Test career, he does seem short of scoring options, particularly on the back foot. This is supported by his run rate of 1.26 runs per over against balls shorter than nine metres from his stumps (global average 3.78).
Renshaw’s healthy average against spin is due largely to a productive series against Yasir Shah in Australia when he scored 103 runs off 130 balls. However, in the away series in India he showed signs of a solid defensive game in tough conditions, playing 193 defensive shots for just one dismissal against spin (global average 85.53), although in the series against Bangladesh that fell to just 28. Renshaw also displays the classic twin-tendencies of an adept player of spin, sweeping the ball 5% of the time (global average 5%) and using his feet to come down the pitch 8% of the time (global average 5%).
Although Renshaw has displayed battling qualities in his Test career so far there are clear areas for England to work on. Seemingly reluctant to cut, pull and hook, Renshaw struggles to score against short balls and can be tied down in this manner. Meanwhile, all of his nine dismissals against pace have come from balls that have pitched fuller than nine metres from his stumps. Renshaw also averages less than 25.00 against balls wide outside off stump, in the channel outside off stump and on the stumps – only really thriving against balls going down leg. Perhaps surprisingly for an on-side player Renshaw averages just 9.50 against right arm pace from round the wicket compared to 44.00 from over the wicket. Both James Anderson and Stuart Broad have good records bowling round the wicket to left handers, averaging 24.85 and 28.11 respectively from the angle.
Renshaw’s lack of an off side game makes him vulnerable to off spin – against which he averages 40.66 – because to score runs he either has to play against the direction of the turn or venture out of his comfort zone and score on the off side. Indeed, so far in his career he has only scored 21% of his runs against off spin on the off side (global left handed average against off spin 49%) and all three of his dismissals have come when he has been attempting to do so. By setting defensive on side fields and attacking off side fields Moeen Ali will certainly be in the game against Renshaw.
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz. @fwildecricket