'Buck' impressed by young opener ahead of MCG clash
IN 41 innings with David Warner at the top of the order for Australia, Chris Rogers shared nine century partnerships.
Warner has had three different partners since Rogers pulled stumps on his career after the Ashes series defeat in England in 2015 but now the 39-year-old says Australia might just have found a player who will suit him as well as the man they called "Buck” did.
Matt Renshaw has joined Warner at the top of the order for the past two Tests and will partner his fellow left-hander to open the batting against Pakistan in the traditional Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Joe Burns is now out of favour after playing 10 Tests with Warner, while Shaun Marsh has not been considered for the second game of the three-match series as he continues his recovery from a broken finger.
Renshaw might have only played two Tests but after watching him get 71 at his home ground of the Gabba in his role as expert commentator for the ABC last week, Rogers said he had been impressed by the 20-year-old.
"You can see already in Renshaw that he has the capabilities to be an excellent Test opening batsman,” Rogers told Australian Regional Media.
"I think Matty Renshaw, or whoever the selectors picked, their job was just to bat time.
"I would be looking at the ball column instead of the runs column initially because Davey up the other end will do the bulk of the scoring usually.
"That's Matty Renshaw's job and he can actually use that as a positive and together they can combine well because the other thing for Warner is as long as there are no wickets going up the other end, it allows him to really express himself. That's when the opposition is in trouble.
"If they can keep taking wickets then that pressure will build on Warner.
"He's (Renshaw) got an important role to fill and together they could be very good.”
Rogers, who scored 2015 runs in 25 Test matches at an average of 42.87, said playing at the MCG on Boxing Day was a "pretty special experience”.
Rogers scored 116 against England in a Test in Melbourne in 2013 and encouraged Renshaw and others who were playing there for the first time in a Test to savour the moment.
"It's that time of year. The day before a game to be Christmas, it kind of throws things out of whack,” Rogers said.
"And then I guess the whole experience of walking up the tunnel and almost the stadium appearing before you, particularly when it's busy, is such an incredible sight and one you don't really experience anywhere else.
"It's different but, equally, it can be one of the great experiences for a professional cricketer.”
Rogers said although the MCG might not be as filled as it would be for an Ashes contest, it would still be an experience that should stick with players for life.
"It's one of those moments where you can think I was lucky enough to play at the MCG and treat it like that,” he said.
"I think even a guy like Matty Renshaw is doing something he always dreamed of doing.”
While Rogers said it was too early to say this was the start of a productive era for Australia, he said there were good signs for the future of the Test side.
"I don't know about eras because there will be a lot of factors that will come into consideration - depth, when injury happens or form drops away,” he said.
"(But) equally, there's the making of a pretty good side.
"You would expect him (Renshaw) to go through a fair few form slumps in the meantime because that's what happens with young players, and the same with Peter Handscomb, who has impressed in his first two Test matches.
"That No.6 role (having been filled by Nic Maddinson) is going to be debated and whether there is still scope for an all-rounder.
"Saying that, the young players, if they play well, the core group is as good as any going around and therefore they do have the makings of a very good side.”
Rogers said the Boxing Day Test and the traditional new year clash at the SCG would be a good pointer to the four-Test away series against the world No.1-ranked Indians.
The former opener said the likes of Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir and leg-spinner Yasir Shar would provide a genuine test for the Aussie batsmen.
"Confidence will need to be big (going into the Indian series),” Rogers said.
"They would not want to have go to India having lost two series back to back and have to go into foreign conditions against a favoured opponent.
"They (Australian selectors) showed that with the sides they picked in the Chappell-Hadlee ODI series that they value winning at the moment.
"It is important, although it will be a very big challenge when they get there.”
"I actually think England played the spin quite well (in the recent Test series) and still copped abuse from a lot of people.
"From what I saw it was tough work and they were fighting hard and that's what is going to be facing Australia and that's going to be a real challenge.”