NEW BOY IN TOWN: Matt Renshaw poses at the Adelaide Oval this week.
NEW BOY IN TOWN: Matt Renshaw poses at the Adelaide Oval this week. Ryan Pierse

Young gun Matt Renshaw fires up nerves of mum and dad

CRICKET fans throughout Australia - and quite a few in England too - will be hanging on every ball Brisbane boy Matt Renshaw faces at the Adelaide Oval.

But none will be more anxiously watching the 20-year-old prodigy in his debut Test for his adopted country than his dad.

Ian Renshaw will be there in the stands with his wife Alison, full of nerves as their baby-faced son prepares to face up to a red-hot South African bowling attack.

The normally cool, calm and collected senior lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology admits with a laugh, "I'd rather be watching from behind the couch.

"I'm not a good watcher, with him in particular.

"I'm okay after an about an hour or two, but I'm no good when he starts,” he added, giving an insight into the emotional roller-coaster experienced by parents of elite sportspeople.

Before arriving in Adelaide last night, ahead of this afternoon's start to the day-night third Test against the Proteas, Ian and the family had only had a "few little interactions on Messenger” with Matt, and of course had seen him "on the telly” in Australia's blue training gear.

"I guess it will be seeing him in the whites and the cap (the coveted baggy green) ... that's when it will hit home,” Ian says.

"When you go up to the next level ... you hope and you think that you're going to be all right, but you just don't know.

"You just need some early runs, just to feel as though you belong. The sooner you can do that the sooner you can just play your own game.”

MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Matt Renshaw and the Australians  pose for a team photo.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Matt Renshaw and the Australians pose for a team photo. Morne de Klerk

Although Matt was the Bulls' leading runscorer (738 at 43.41) in the 2015-16 Sheffield Shield, Ian had feared the dreaded "second-season syndrome” might strike this summer.

Matt only returned to grade cricket on November 12 for Toombul, making 52, after injuring a knee while playing for Queensland in the domestic one-day competition in early October.

"At the beginning of the week all I was interested in was him getting back playing for Queensland,” Ian recalled.

"He got built up on the Wednesday (before the Shield game against South Australia) and I was thinking 'oh goodness, just leave him alone, let him play'.

"But he came out and did what he did (making 108 and 50) and the jungle drums started beating ... harder and harder.

"I don't think he got caught up at all - he said he was aware of it in the background but he managed to focus on his game.

"Hopefully that's what he's able to do this week as well ... but it will be a harder situation now.”

While Ian's heart will be pounding, his head will be trying to tell him his son does indeed have the temperament and skill to thrive in the toughest arena.

"When he was little it was such a challenge because he was so much smaller than everybody else, but you could see there was something there,” Ian says. "He could just bat time ... he was mentally strong.”

As he's grown into a big lump of a lad, Matt's insatiable appetite for spending time in the middle and scoring runs has grown with him.

He cracked a century when he made his second-grade debut for Toombul as a 16-year-old in 2012-13 and it wasn't long before he had doubled up with a second.

WELCOME ABOARD: Players, including Matt Renshaw, celebrate during a training drill during an Australian nets session
WELCOME ABOARD: Players, including Matt Renshaw, celebrate during a training drill during an Australian nets session Morne de Klerk

A season later (2013-14) he would notch his first ton in first-grade at Maroochydore, before making two more.

"Three hundreds as a 17-year-old ... we don't think it has ever been done before,” Ian said. "Someone said Matthew Hayden did it, but we can't find it (the record).”

Come the end of the 2014-15 season and Matt got his first taste of Shield cricket, before really showcasing his talent on the national stage with two tons for the Bulls in 2015-16 - the first in Mackay last December (170 off 395 deliveries) when he became the youngest Queensland century-maker since Martin Love.

Much has been made of Matt's English roots - both the family origin and the family friends.

Ian and Matt Root, the father of England batting star Joe, played together for Sheffield Collegiate, before Ian pulled stumps on the Renshaws life in England and moved to New Zealand in 2003 before settling in Australia in 2008.

Matt had admitted there were dreams of one day representing England when mucking about with the Root boys - Joe and the younger Billy - but that was a world away now.

Any moves by England cricket to entice Yorkshire-born Matt back to the 'homeland' were quickly thwarted.

"I think as soon as Queensland signed him and then Australia picked him in the under-19s to go Sri Lanka,you're on the pathway then, you've made the choice,” Ian, who hails from Nottingham, said.

NEW PAIRING: Matt Renshaw walks up to bat in the nets with David Warner during an Australian nets session at Adelaide Oval
NEW PAIRING: Matt Renshaw walks up to bat in the nets with David Warner during an Australian nets session at Adelaide Oval Morne de Klerk

Ian, who had described Matt as "Ocker as Andrew Symonds” earlier in the week, said his own father has been on the front foot back in England after news broke Matt would be playing for Australia.

"He said 'they keep going on about him being English', and dad said 'he's an Aussie! He's been over there more than he has here'.

"But, they're obviously as proud as punch.”

Ian, who specialises in skill acquisition at Queensland University of Technology, also coaches at Toombul Cricket Club.

"We have a theory that we use to underpin our work which is different to traditional coaching. It's quite a natural way of learning,” he explains.

"It's about providing environments that allow them to solve problems the best way for them - tell me what you want them to do not how to do it

"That's allowed him to be quite a natural player in terms of the way he moves and hits the ball. His game has developed within that.”

Now Matt is set to be tested like never before. But, you can't help but think with all that tutelage and all that talent he will pass with flying colors - green and gold.


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