Renshaw could remain available to Brisbane Heat in Test lead-up

Australia could release Matt Renshaw to play in the BBL Challenger on Monday, and the final on Wednesday if Brisbane Heat qualify, despite the second Test starting at the Gabba on Thursday and Usman Khawaja needing to be monitored following his head knock in the first Test against West Indies.

Australia’s selectors took a rare gamble during the Adelaide Test when they released Renshaw from the squad on the second night of the match to fly to the Gold Coast to play in Friday night’s BBL Qualifier against Sydney Sixers.

It left Australia without a reserve batter at the venue if they needed a concussion substitute on the third day and they got a glimpse of how much of a risk that was when Khawaja was struck on the head by Shamar Joseph in Australia’s second innings and had to retire hurt. But the state of the game meant a substitute wasn’t required as Australia only needed one run to win.

Khawaja passed his first concussion test on Friday and scans cleared him of any damage to his jaw. He will need to pass another concussion test on Saturday to ensure he is not experiencing delayed symptoms and he will be monitored in the lead-up to the second Test in Brisbane.

But despite the scare, Australia head coach Andrew McDonald said the selectors are unlikely to add another batter to the squad and they may release Renshaw again to play for the Heat on Monday on the Gold Coast and possibly for the final in Sydney on Wednesday.

“I think the information that comes from Uzzy [Khawaja] will then dictate how that sort of unfolds,” McDonald said. “I suppose the positive for the Brisbane Heat is that the final now will be on the east coast somewhere which makes it probably time-friendly to be able to potentially play the final. If it was on the west coast it would be much more difficult.

“We consider the risk when we release players and I think it’s about 0.5% chance in terms of a concussion happening. So it was ironic that the first time we’ve let a player go back during the Big Bash that there was a head knock. Fortunately enough, the game was in a position where we thought that it wasn’t going to be a higher risk than necessary. So we were happy for Renners to go back and perform for the Heat.

“We feel as though we’ve got flexibility when we need to be able to release players and we like seeing players play.”

McDonald said it was difficult to judge how the revamped batting order had functioned after just one game on a very challenging pitch where two players in the match passed 50. Steven Smith only got to face 48 balls in his first game as an opener as he finished 11 not out in Australia’s chase of 26.

“Sample size of one is always difficult to judge,” McDonald said. “We’re comfortable with where it’s all landed. We feel as though that top six and the way they complement each other gives us the best opportunity to maximize [scores]. We’re very comfortable with Smudge at the top of the order and then seeing Cameron Green back out there in the field, with ball and bat in hand was great to see as well. So we’re optimistic that they will work. And I suppose hindsight will tell us everything.”

Australia’s batters were impressed by the quality of Shamar Joseph’s bowling during the Adelaide Test but the coach believes they will be better prepared for him in Brisbane after getting a good look at him.

“Sight unseen is always difficult for batters,” McDonald said. “When you haven’t seen someone and got used to their rhythm and the cues that they present sometimes you do get drawn into shots that potentially you don’t play and we saw that with Marnus as well. It was maybe his second bouncer, he probably didn’t have the cues and it rushed him a little and brought about his demise.

“So we feel as though now that there’s less unknowns going into the second Test match. We’ve had a good look at them. A lot of those little decision-making errors that may have crept in I think will have ironed themselves out.”

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