Sydney - Australia are banking on English-born opener Matt
Renshaw as part of their rescue package for the crisis-hit Test team, much to
the glee of their arch cricketing rivals.
In one of the seismic selection purges in the last 30 years,
opener Renshaw, 20, will be the youngest Test batsman to debut for Australia
since the late Phillip Hughes in 2009.
"This is a lifelong dream. I thought someday down the
track I would be playing for Australia, but not at age 20," said Renshaw.
The tall Queensland left-hander was born in Yorkshire but
came to Australia via New Zealand aged 10, and was a childhood friend of
England's Joe Root.
He will open the batting with David Warner - who infamously
punched Root in a Birmingham bar before the start of the 2013 Ashes.
Renshaw is one of three likely Test batting debuts along
with Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson for the demoralised Australian team in
this week's Adelaide day-night Test against South Africa.
Victorian batsman Handscomb, 25, is also the holder of a
British passport, but was born in Australia to English parents.
Selectors wielded the axe after Australia lost by an innings
and 80 runs to hand the Proteas an unassailable 2-0 series lead in Hobart.
Australia's fifth Test defeat in a row, after losing 3-0 in
Sri Lanka in July and August, has left them on the brink of their first ever
home Test series whitewash.
"Can't believe a country would pick a player not born
and bred in their own back yard," teased former England captain Michael
Vaughan in a tweet.
"Great to see Australia picking an Englishman to get
them out of this hole.... #Renshaw."
London Daily Telegraph cricket writer Nick Hoult joined the
fun, tweeting: "20 years on from the Aussie press dubbing (Martin) McCague
the 'rat who joined a sinking ship' they pick a Pom in their losing Test team
Renshaw got the nod after just 12 first-class games where he
amassed 1,021 runs at 44.39 with three centuries, the latest, 108, coming in
the Sheffield Shield last week.
His father Ian told the Brisbane Courier-Mail his son was
"It is important for people to know that Matt loves
Australia and he is as Australian as they come," he said.
"For a long time it felt as though he couldn't say
that, because we, his parents, are English but he is pure Aussie."
Renshaw will be a contrast to fellow left-hander Warner.
Unlike his adventurous partner, he prizes occupation of the crease above all
That will be welcome for Australia, who were bundled out for
85 in the first innings in Hobart and lost 10-86 in a stunning collapse during
the Perth series opener against the Proteas.
South Africa are chasing a first-ever series whitewash in
Australia when they go into Thursday's pink ball Test.