Test spinner Nathan Lyon says Matt Renshaw has the support of influential members of the n inner sanctum and has backed the opener to snap out of his form slump if given the green light to face England at the Gabba.
The squad for next week’s first Test will be announced in Brisbane on Friday and the opener, wicketkeeper and No.6 are the trio of spots continuing to stir debate.
Renshaw’s poor returns in the opening rounds of the Sheffield Shield – just 70 runs in six innings – have made his position at the top of the order vulnerable, while rival Cameron Bancroft has continued to feast on runs as he hammered a perfectly timed double century for Western at the WACA ground.
Lyon helped NSW to a six-wicket win over Queensland at Allan Border Field on Wednesday and the Test players enjoyed an extra day of rest due to the early finish. Lyon did his best to delay proceedings by burning a piece of toast and causing both grandstands and the Queensland Cricket offices to be evacuated.
“Yep. I certainly did,” Lyon confessed after the victory. “I was getting a bit bored in the change rooms. [NSW captain] Steve Smith has already said he’s going to cover the fine. He’s a bit grumpy, a bit stressed at the moment, but he’ll be right.
“[The toast] popped up first. Wasn’t happy. Put it back down, then got carried away watching the cricket.”
After creating some ashes of his own, Lyon can now focus on the real thing. He made it clear it was not just him who wanted to see Renshaw given the benefit of the doubt before being discarded in favour of Bancroft, who could in turn bat at six depending on how the team was balanced.
“Yeah, definitely,” Lyon said. “Last Test Matt Renshaw played in he got 180 [184 versus Pakistan in Sydney]. I’m not a selector but I like Matt. I’m a big fan of Matt Renshaw. He’s a class batter. He got unlucky in two dismissals here at AB Field but I’m a big fan.
“That’s the pressure of international cricket. Playing cricket from , you’re going to come under scrutiny from the media and the public. If you’re in the inner sanctum, if you’ve got the support – which he does – usually you can get out of that head space and go and perform well.
“If you have the support around the inner sanctum, the players and the coaching staff, that’s the most important thing. The media can write what they want, the public can think what they want. But you have that positive energy around the squad, which there is already.
“There are going to be times in this series when everyone is going to be placed under pressure. It’s about how you bounce back and being resilient and trying to put the Poms under pressure and making them as uncomfortable as possible.”
Coach and selector Darren Lehmann paid close attention to Renshaw during a fiery net session against Test fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood on Wednesday, while Lyon’s comments would suggest Smith wanted Renshaw retained.
The selection panel of Lehmann, Greg Chappell, Mark Waugh and Trevor Hohns were meeting late on Wednesday to finalise the squad, although Lyon already had a plan to solve the tricky issue around No.6.
“I think I’m batting six and we go with four quicks,” Lyon said. “That’s usually the headline up here in Brissy. We might go with four quicks and me at six. That’s what I’ve been telling Smithy anyway.”
While Usman Khawaja, who batted well with a pair of 50s in a losing side in Brisbane, refused to buy into any Ashes discussions, Lyon said he had been counting down the days until the first ball next Thursday.
“I think the switch has already been flicked in my book. I’ve been pretty excited about this summer for a long time now. It’s a massive goal of mine to win the Ashes back.
“I’ve played three Ashes now, lost two and one won. I was fortunate enough to play in that 5-0 series so, hopefully, we can recreate history.”