Steve Waugh has urged selectors to make tight techniques the priority at the top, claiming Matt Renshaw can be Australia’s man to combat England’s swing in the Ashes.
Renshaw on Wednesday returned to the fold for the first time in almost three years, named in an Australia A squad to play an intrasquad match and game against the England Lions in December.
He is, however, unlikely to regain Test selection, missing the top squad for the first two matches and with selectors keen on a pick-and-stick approach.
Marcus Harris will open alongside David Warner, leaving Usman Khawaja in a duel with Travis Head for Waugh’s old No.5 spot after both had big starts to the domestic season.
But while Waugh expects Head to win out, Australia’s greatest Ashes captain is concerned about the top of the order after Stuart Broad wreaked havoc in 2019 when the average opening stand was just 8.5.
“The selectors have to be careful, they have to look at techniques,” Waugh said at the opening of his Spirit of Cricket – India photography exhibition in Sydney.
“Because Broad and (Jimmy) Anderson will expose you if you have a weakness in your technique.
“You have to have a tight, compact defence against quality bowling. Usman is a little bit loose at times.
“I know he has a great eye, so that is great if the ball is not moving around a bit. If it is moving around a bit it will be a bit harder for him.
“(The selectors) have a big responsibility to not just pick a guy because he is scoring runs, but who is going to be the best batsman at playing well against this English attack.”
Harris has also fallen regularly outside off stump in his Test career, with Matt Hayden among those expressing technical concerns.
Which is why Waugh likes Renshaw, who was a rock to remove in his first international summer in 2016-17 and last playing Test cricket in 2018.
The 25-year-old has moved down the order for Queensland, hitting a century already this summer after returning to form last season.
“The forgotten man of Australian cricket is Matt Renshaw,” Waugh said when asked whom he would open with.
“I don’t know why he is batting in the lower order because he did a great job for Australia opening.
“He’s got a good technique but for some reason he is not the flavour of the day.
“But I thought he made an amazing Test debut under lights in Adelaide in difficult conditions. He scored slowly but survived.
“He hasn’t got the credits he deserves while playing. I wouldn’t rule him out.”
Chief selector George Bailey indicated Renshaw would bat in the middle order for Australia A, with Henry Hunt and gritty Queenslander Bryce Street opening.
Mitch Marsh shapes as the only real option to rise from the Australia A squad, particularly if Cameron Green’s rise hits turbulence during the summer.