Root Jnr couldn’t convince Renshaw to become a Pom
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.
Proud to wear the Baggy Green: Matt Renshaw batting for Australia
Glove story: MCC Young Cricketers coach Mark Alleyne