How runs and, er, runs proved Matt had the stomach to guts this out
The boys are separated by a few thousand miles but there’s still lots of stories to process, both in India and Australia... Geoff Lemon: That was… everything, in microcosm. First day at Pune, I mean. It had all the potential that Australian batsmen can show in difficult conditions, then all its undoing. A frustrating day and a delightful day in patches. But I’m still left thinking of the opportunities lost amid the ground gained. Adam Collins: As our colleague Dan Brettig put it, neither as good nor bad as it should have been. Still, if you start as you plan to go on, at least Matt Renshaw’s career and tour are in good shape. We’ll come to the obvious talking point from his first overseas Test innings in a second. But what I found most insightful in his Press conference was that he acknowledged that it was a pitch unlike any he had seen, yet he took the same approach he always does. He’s just so damn mature. GL: He’s unflappable. Cannot be flapped. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to flap him, but I tell you it cannot be done. They were difficult conditions, especially with his interrupted innings and his teammates going OK and then falling in a heap. In the end the weight was left to him, and it was a heavy one for young shoulders. But he took it on, and while he didn’t get a huge score, he outscored the rest of his team. AC: Conditions that couldn’t be more foreign to him, no matter where you identify him as having been brought up. So impressive. Okay, I’ll do the fun bit? The bit where he nearly soiled himself on the field. Of course, we all laughed. Even with something juvenile, though, he showed maturity. By the sounds, Steve Smith wasn’t happy with him going off. But he knew he had to, and had the strength of character to – as my therapist would say – tend to his own needs. It was a bit cute that he didn’t know if retiring ill would mean the end of his innings. Astonishing how often players don’t know the laws of the game they make a living from. GL: It would be a harsh umpire to try to give you out when you’re about to… in grammar terms, let’s say inappropriately use a colon. I’ve been to India. You’ve been to India. We all know what can happen, and we know that when true urgency strikes, even a Test match innings won’t stay foremost in your mind. AC: Last point on this. How about Allan Border lining him up saying he would want to be “half dead” to justify retiring? Give me strength. GL: I’d hope he was joking, playing off all the (surely mythological) tough guy talk around the Dean Jones innings way back when. They say the heart wants what the heart wants, but the guts don’t mess around when they have a tactical plan either. Can’t fight it, and no-one wants to see the results of the attempt by a guy wearing all creams. AC: Back to the park. Mitch Marsh is going to cop it from the entire nation. But that was a very handy set up from Jadeja. There’s got to be some allowance. Likewise Umesh Yadav in that spell later on, hooping it around corners with reverse swing. Helped by the practice wickets on the square, of course. It’ll
encourage Starc and Hazlewood. Bit in this for everyone. GL: Disagree. That Jadeja set-up was so obvious. Turn one ball away, fire one straight. Marsh saw that a hundred times in Sri Lanka, and still got done. If you’re not learning, what’s the point? Ditto for Sniffer Smith, as he did in Sri Lanka, going for unneeded lofts against spin after playing himself in. Holing out is a crime with the advantage of batting first on a deck that will fall to bits. AC: It may be a well-worn plan, but the execution was spot on. It’s like saying Atherton shouldn’t have nicked off to McGrath the dozenth time. But let’s not go down that wormhole. Smith, yes, culpable. Especially coming after Handscomb’s demise, with it still unclear what role Renshaw would be able to play. It was glossed over against Pakistan, but the mini-collapses continued to be a feature of Australia’s summer – 4-15 they lost in the final session today.You can’t rely on your bowlers to save you. Even if they are as capable as Mitch Starc. Or as defiant as Josh Hazlewood. GL: Hazlewood’s superpower is the massive partnership in which he doesn’t score. I was gutted when he finally got a single. Ruined the whole balance of the thing. But Starc was fun. Reached 1,000 runs in Tests to go with a hundred wickets. Most sixes in an innings at the MCG, sure, but now he has the most sixes in an innings at the MCA Pune Stadium as well. AC: Was waiting for you to bring that up. GL: Mind you, O’Keefe and Lyon are equal-10th all-time scorers at the ground with nought. AC: No-one does a nonsense stat quite like you. It is a lovely ground. Looking out , sun-drenched, mountainous backdrop, there’s even a canine academy in the grandstand. Beat that, Lord’s. Even if the track is going to rage more than Steve O’Keefe at the disco, this could turn into a decent contest. Provided Australia’s spinners don’t get mauled, in keeping with that dog theme. I fear for Lyon tomorrow. I truly do. GL: A final word on the Final Word for our guy Michael Klinger. Got his Australia cap in the T20s, made 38, 43, and 62, all at a good rate. The series slipped away thanks to some godly chasing from Asela Gunaratne. But hopefully the Klingon rates retention. AC: Said he was in tears when he got the nod. Lovely story. As for the Test stuff, we’ll know a lot more by next week’s. Same time, same place, see you then.
Hazlewood’s super power is the massive partnership in which he doesn’t score. I was gutted when he finally got a single
Across the line: Mitchell Starc hits out
Top-scorer: Matt Renshaw salutes his 50 as India look on despairingly