Matthew Renshaw is hoping for a long career in the baggy green. Picture: Getty
Matthew Renshaw is hoping for a long career in the baggy green. Picture: Getty

Matt Renshaw on cricket, family and mowing lawns

Rising cricket star Matthew Renshaw has no doubt that Brisbane's year-round sunshine has provided the perfect climate for his prodigious talent to flourish.

The opening batsman, who first played for Australia as a 20-year-old, attributes his spectacular rise up the ranks to his family's move to Brisbane when he was 10.

"No matter whether it's summer or winter, you always have this beautiful sun in the sky,'' he says.

"It was a dream come true to be able to play cricket all year round."

Matthew Renshaw at Allen Border Field, Brisbane. Picture: AAP/John Gass
Matthew Renshaw at Allen Border Field, Brisbane. Picture: AAP/John Gass

English-born Matthew has been in and out of Australia's Test team since he bolted into the national spotlight in 2016.

While still a teenager, he came into selection calculations after an epic 170 against NSW, becoming the youngest first-class century maker for Queensland during his debut season in 2015.

"I didn't think I would be considered for Australia, I thought I might be too young and didn't have enough experience," he admits.

Now, at 22, he has had his share of highs, including scoring 184 runs against Pakistan in Sydney in 2017, along with three 50s and building a batting average of 33.47 while wearing the baggy green.

But there have been lows too, such as being overlooked for the past two home Test series. Now Matthew has been selected in the Australian squad for the upcoming two-test series against Sri Lanka, in Brisbane and Canberra.

"It's a big achievement, being picked in the squad. Hopefully I get a chance to score some runs to put my name up there,'' he says.

The young gun has demonstrated his determination to return to Test cricket by scoring 1398 first-class runs last year for Australia, Queensland, including the Sheffield Shield final win, and Somerset county in England.

This total does not include his 345 runs for Toombul club in A-Grade cricket.

The Courier-Mail and Fox cricket commentator Robert Craddock had no doubt Matthew would return to the Test arena.

"He will play 60 or more Tests for Australia but it will be an up-and-down journey requiring a lot of patience. Selection won't be handed to him. He is not the chosen one but nor was Matthew Hayden and he got there in the end," Robert says.

"Matthew has a very good skill set for an opening batsman and there are times when his patience belies his years."

The Brisbane Grammar School alumnus attributes his great form of the past year to the support network provided by parents Ian and Alison, sister Hannah, 26, a primary school teacher, and his girlfriend of almost three years, Josie Harvey.

He and Josie have lived together since December, 2017, after Matthew bought his first house, in Wavell Heights in Brisbane's north.

The couple met at a low-key barbecue party on a boat at Bribie Island with Matthew immediately finding the law student "easy to talk to''.

 

Matt and Josie arrive at the 2018 Allan Border Medal at Crown Palladium on February 12, 2018 in Melbourne. Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images
Matt and Josie arrive at the 2018 Allan Border Medal at Crown Palladium on February 12, 2018 in Melbourne. Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

"I waited a little bit before I asked her out because I was a bit nervous about it all but ever since then our relationship has been strong,'' says Matthew, who adds that Josie had no idea who he was - or indeed about cricket in general - when they met.

"It's good that cricket is not the number one thing we talk about in our house. We moved in together around the time I got dropped from the Australian team so it was a good distraction to be shopping for things for the house and mowing lawns."

Dad Ian could not be more proud of his son's achievements, on and off the pitch.

"Matt has his head switched on," Ian says.

"He wanted to enter the property market as quickly as possible; he's not a party person."

Both Josie and Matthew's parents have travelled around the country and internationally to watch him play. Josie also lived with Matthew in Somerset, England, last year.

A young Matt Renshaw.
A young Matt Renshaw.

A passion for sports runs deep in the Renshaw family ranks. Matthew's parents were talented athletes who became PE teachers.

Mum Alison currently teaches at Albany Creek State High School, while his father Ian is a senior lecturer at QUT, with sports coaching, skill acquisition and sports psychology his areas of expertise.

Ian was even contracted to Cricket Australia eight years ago to assist with coaching strategies. Matthew says he did not appreciate the extent of his father's coaching knowledge until he started his research for a Year 11 PE assignment.

"My dad's name kept coming up in research articles.

I went to my PE teacher and I asked if I could quote my dad and he said as long as it was from articles and not from talk around the dinner table,'' Matthew laughs.

During Matthew's teen years, Ian spent countless hours bowling to his son in their back yard. Ian says the youngster, who focused on cricket after a knee injury dampened his dreams of a soccer career, was playing grade cricket against adults from a young age.

Australian Cricket Stenlake Renshaw
Australian Cricket Stenlake Renshaw

"When he was in his mid-teens he was half the size of the other players. He couldn't score quickly but they couldn't get him out. He learnt from a young age about how to deal with people sledging him and also stubbornness at bat,'' he says.

"When he was 12 he said he wanted to play Test cricket, so we told him it would take a lot of commitment.

It was amazing how quickly things happened, he went up a level every single year after he had his growth spurt (at 16).

"He went from wondering whether he would ever play first grade to playing Test cricket at 20 years of age, which is very unusual.''