Australia A 155 for 1 (Renshaw 92*) vs New Zealand A
Matt Renshaw made a bid for a place in Australia's Ashes squad as he dominated a shortened opening day of the first four-day match against New Zealand A in Lincoln with an unbeaten 92.
Renshaw, the most experienced batter in the Australia A squad, does not have a county deal like others vying for a tour spot so these two matches are valuable to him after a difficult tour of India where he missed out three times batting in the middle order, albeit in conditions a world away from what will be on offer in England.
"Really strange times at the moment for me," he said. "I feel like I haven't had much of a bat since the end of the Shield season. I had BBL, which was quite successful at the end. It feels really strange saying four months was four bats, but that's the way cricket can be. It was nice to be back in the middle and enjoying batting."
Though he batted in the middle order in India, where he was preferred to Travis Head in the first Test before being David Warner's concussion sub in the second, he is viewed as an opening option when a vacancy arrives, which could be sooner rather than later depending on Warner's form. The first phase of Renshaw's Test career came as an opener and this season he returned to that role for Queensland after a period in the middle order.
Renshaw, who survived a big appeal for a catch down the leg side on 17, became increasingly dominant as his innings developed. He hurried into the 80s as he took on a short-pitched attack from Scott Kuggeleijn, which brought 18 off an over including a top-edged six, then collected consecutive boundaries off left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel.
The South Island of New Zealand in early autumn could also hardly be more removed from Nagpur and Delhi. With a further eye on conditions which are likely to prevail in the UK for the World Test Championship final against India then the Ashes these two matches are being played with the Dukes ball.
The New Zealand A bowlers did not find much joy with it on an opening day truncated to 44 overs after the first session was washed out then lengthening shadows took the players off for bad light.
"The pitch is really similar to what you would expect over in England, so it's a really nice challenge for us over here," Renshaw said. "Losing the toss and batting is a really good opportunity to test yourself on these wickets.
"After being in India for six weeks facing an SG [ball] on wickets that don't bounce, it was a nice change and challenge coming over here."
Should Renshaw reach three figures on the second day it will mean he has effectively made consecutive centuries for Australia A after the one he scored for the Prime Minister's XI against West Indies in Canberra last November. He returned to the Test side at the SCG in January only to be positive for Covid-19 on the opening day then see his chances of a proper innings hit by the weather.
The only wicket to fall was that of 18-year-old Teague Wyllie, the Western Australia batter, who opened for the first time in his first-class career. He did not entirely settle against the new ball before cutting Kuggeleijn into backward point.
Tim Ward accompanied Renshaw in what became a second-wicket stand worth 113 during the rest of the day. He, too, was tested by the short delivery but more often than not opted to avoid rather than take the ball on.