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Renshaw nightmare forces Ashes gamble

MATT Renshaw fell for just one run less than one minute after rising star Cameron Bancroft knocked the door down with a double-century on the other side of the country on Tuesday.

The Aussie opener’s Ashes hopes are hanging by a thread ahead of the Australian selection panel’s meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday.

In his final opportunity to save his skin, the lanky left-hander was caught down the leg-side for one off fired-up Blues quick Doug Bollinger to leave the Bulls reeling at 2/7 at tea on day two, trailing overall by 81.

Renshaw has now scored 70 runs in his past six first-class knocks at an average 11.7.

Across the country in Perth, Bancroft was whacking national selectors on the head, demanding to be selected when he raced past 200 runs in Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield match against South Australia.

At lunch on day two, Bancroft had raced to 228 from 351 balls — his highest score in first class cricket.

Bancroft will on Sunday celebrate his 25th birthday, his recent form suggests he will also be celebrating his first Baggy Green cap.

The Australian team for the First Test at the Gabba, beginning on November 23, will be announced on Friday.

It would take an extremely stubborn selection panel to dismiss Bancroft’s claim.

The timing of Renshaw’s failure, when compared to Bancroft’s impressive knock in Perth — the day before the selectors meet — has been described as a “nightmare” situation for the Queensland batsman.

Selector Mark Waugh on Monday admitted Bancroft has caught the eye of selectors, but also declared Renshaw was “a good chance” of being given the nod to partner David Warner in the First Test.

“Cameron’s two innings were really good against a Test bowling attack,” Waugh said.

“That’s the sort of performance as far as me being a selector that is really good. That sort of innings definitely puts you high in the order.”

Incredibly, the thing that may save Renshaw is that selectors could ultimately decide that Bancroft would serve the Australian side better by strengthening the famously fragile middle order.

Bancroft has played wicketkeeper for Western Australia in their past two Sheffield Shield Games and has previously kept for Australia last summer in an international Twenty20.

Aussie cricket great Darren Berry told SEN Afternoons he envisages Bancroft coming into the Baggy Green as a replacement for Matthew Wade behind the stumps.

Bancroft being parachuted into the wicketkeeping position would be a “slap in the face” that might end up saving Renshaw from the chop.

“If the selectors are true to their word, they said whoever stands up in these games will get the opportunity,” Berry told SEN Afternoons.

“Bancroft’s last game they played New South Wales in Sydney, against the bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon. That’s the Australian bowling attack. Bancroft made two 70s. He is now 170 not out in Perth. He has to be in. Does he open?

“Bancroft is the bolter at the moment because he has performed. He is also a wicketkeeper. He has played Australian U19’s as a wicketkeeper. If he is an opening batsman, he is good against the new ball, so he could bat at six or seven and be the wicketkeeper.

“Now, that goes against everything I always stand for, which is pick the best wicketkeeper. The best wicketkeeper is Peter Nevill. If they’re undecided on Nevill and Matthew Wade, which it appears they are, does Bancroft become the bolter?”

It seems Renshaw’s best hope of survival is for selectors to decide he is slightly less out of form than wicketkeepers Nevill, Wade and Alex Carey.

CUMMINS WANTS TO TERRORISE POMS

Six years after his baggy green debut, Australian quick Pat Cummins wants to make up for lost time in his first home Test series and take over Mitchell Johnson’s Ashes enforcer role.

The former injury-plagued speedster says he is in career-best shape and raring to intimidate England in the upcoming Ashes — much like Johnson did in 2013. In the last home Ashes series, fiery left-arm quick Johnson terrorised England as he claimed 37 wickets to help seal Australia’s 5-0 whitewash. It’s a hard act to follow.

But after years of watching home Tests from the sidelines nursing seemingly endless injuries, Cummins, 24, is finally primed to confront England on Australian soil, starting at the Gabba on November 23.

“We saw what Mitchell Johnson did last Ashes series here — it would be a role I would love to play,” said Cummins.

“As a fast bowler, it’s (about) getting in their face and being relentless in everything we do.

“I just can’t wait to get out there.

“As a kid growing up, you watch a lot of Test cricket on TV. “To be in that position where I might play in one, I’m pumped.” Cummins burst onto the international scene at 18 in Australia’s second Test win in South Africa in November 2011.

Injuries — largely back stress fractures — ensured he didn’t play another Test until March this year.

Cummins said his long battle back would make his first home Test all the more special.

“It certainly felt a long way away for a while,” he said.

“I was pretty young when I first started playing.

“It all happened really quickly and didn’t give me a chance to stand back and realise what I was actually doing.

“Having those five or six years (on sidelines) … I think it will mean a bit more when I go out there.” Cummins may be using Johnson as inspiration on the field but the 24-year-old revealed the left-arm paceman had also provided plenty off it. Johnson — who retired in 2015 — also had to combat injury early in his career before emerging as the world’s most feared bowler.

“It probably gave me a little bit of confidence and a little bit of patience (that he could return),” Cummins said of Johnson’s successful injury comeback. “Now I’m at the stage where I don’t have to worry about it (injuries).” Cummins and fellow Test quicks Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird have been rested for this week’s Sheffield Shield action to be primed for the Ashes.

But Cummins admitted he was still unsure whether he could get through a five- Test series.

He played back-to-back Tests for the first time in Bangladesh in August. “I feel like I’m in the best position I can be, but we’ll have to wait and see — there’s no guarantees,” he said

— AAP

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