Matt Renshaw won mind game to book Ashes berth
Matt Renshaw credits a moment of enlightenment on the Australia A tour of New Zealand with helping him to book a spot on the upcoming Ashes tour.
The 27-year-old left-hander, who was born in England, had endured a dire Test tour of India where he made scores of 0, 2 and 2 in two Tests. Only runs, and lots of them, were going to get him on the plane to England.
The Australia A tour started superbly for Renshaw against New Zealand A with scores of 112 and 78 at Lincoln while opening the innings.
With just one match to go, he was looking out for the release of Cricket Australia's centrally-contracted players list and his mind started to play tricks.
"I had a little bit of a blip in the first innings of the second game. The contract list had just come out and I had missed out," Renshaw told AAP.
"I had done a bit of thinking about that and was trying to predict stuff in my own head, but that didn't really work out.
"That second game it got in my head in the first innings. I played a terrible shot and got out for two. I said to myself, 'OK, that's not why you play. Get back to why you want to play'...and I scored (140) in the second innings.
"Obviously India was tough mentally from the cricket side of things. I would have like a lot more runs but unfortunately that wasn't the case," Renshaw added.
"So I went to New Zealand with a mindset to enjoy my cricket. It can be tough when you know you have to score runs to get in a side, but I wasn't thinking about that.
"I was just trying to enjoy myself. That is when I produce my best batting. The results over there were part and parcel of that."
Renshaw's approach was like that of a zen monk, clearing his mind with no thought of grasping or striving for an elusive goal.
He hit the jackpot when Australian chairman of selectors George Bailey phoned later with news of the Ashes squad.
"I had spoken to Usman Khawaja and he got his call the day before so I knew mine was coming," Renshaw said.
"George gave me a call and it started with all the standard stuff and I said,' Come on, just tell me whether I am in or out'. He told me I was in and I was really excited to be going to England."
Renshaw opened the batting early in his Test career but said being dropped from the Queensland side several years ago was "a silver lining".
"It made me force my way back into the side at No.5, just because of how strong our batting order has been," Renshaw said.
"I always thought I had the game to bat in the middle order. A lot of openers do, it's just that they haven't had the opportunity.
"In terms of this tour, it is going to be about supporting the boys at the start and if I do get an opportunity to play, whether as an opener or in the middle order, I will enjoy myself.
"It is the Ashes. There will be more emotions and more people watching but at the end of the day it is a bowler against a batter trying to score runs."