Root Jnr couldn’t con­vince Ren­shaw to be­come a Pom

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS - By Richard Ed­wards

WHEN The Cricket Pa­per catches up with Mark Al­leyne the for­mer MCC Young Crick­eters’ head coach is en­joy­ing a bot­tle of some­thing cold in the late Por­tuguese sum­mer sun­shine.

By the time the Ashes is over this win­ter, the Aus­tralian selec­tors might have ev­ery rea­son to raise a sim­i­lar glass to his work with one of their most promis­ing young bats­men.

Matt Ren­shaw ap­pears cer­tain to be David Warner’s open­ing part­ner for the Ashes this win­ter fol­low­ing a se­ries of stand­out per­for­mances at the top of the Aussie or­der.

That he finds him­self in the po­si­tion he does could be at­trib­uted to the year he spent at Lord’s, work­ing with Al­leyne and his as­sis­tant coach, Phil Hud­son, while play­ing for the MCC’s Young Crick­eters.

That came about af­ter a per­sonal let­ter was sent to Al­leyne from the great Greg Chap­pell, who be­lieved that Ren­shaw would ben­e­fit hugely from a sea­son in English con­di­tions.

The Young Crick­eters would also, he rea­soned, be the best op­tion to avoid any po­ten­tial at­tempts from English coun­ties to con­vert the Mid­dles­brough-born bats­man from Aussie to Pom.

Al­leyne him­self was un­der strict in­struc­tions to pre­vent any ap­proaches, with the coach re­veal­ing he was happy to leave that work to Ren­shaw’s MCC team-mate and fam­ily friend, Billy Root, Joe’s younger brother.

As it was, Ren­shaw re­mained stead­fastly Aussie and Chap­pell was proved dead right, with Ren­shaw re­turn­ing a more com­plete player af­ter be­ing ex­posed to English con­di­tions and the swing­ing Dukes ball.

“You get quite close to the par­ents,” says Al­leyne. “It would have been mis­guided for me to try and turn him to­wards Eng­land and away from Aus­tralia. We had Billy Root with us at the time and he and Matt got along very well. I thought he might be able to do a con­ver­sion on him but it clearly didn’t work!

“He was a fairly typ­i­cal YC in that he used the year very ben­e­fi­cially. What was clear was that here was a guy who liked to bat and bat. He en­joyed bat­ting for time but when he came to us he also wanted to ex­pand his game, which he def­i­nitely did.

“That’s what the pro­gramme is all about. It’s not about just do­ing what you are good at, it’s about see­ing what else you can add to your game.”

It took Ren­shaw some time to find his feet on ‘home’ pitches, hardly sur­pris­ing given he had left Eng­land at the age of seven to head to New Zealand. By the time he had headed back to Aus­tralia, though, he was a far more dy­namic crick­eter and one as at home in T20 cricket as he was in the longer for­mats.

“He started to take more chances and al­though he wasn’t as pro­lific as he could have been we knew he was a damn good crick­eter,” says Al­leyne. “He had some re­ally great days when he looked like a crick­eter ca­pa­ble of play­ing at the high­est level and some days where his im­ma­tu­rity came through and he wasn’t as fo­cused as he should have been. He was a young boy try­ing to find his way.”

Some three years on, he has no doubt about where he’s go­ing. And no re­grets that he’s do­ing it for Aus­tralia rather than Eng­land.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Proud to wear the Baggy Green: Matt Ren­shaw bat­ting for Aus­tralia

Glove story: MCC Young Crick­eters coach Mark Al­leyne

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