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Matt Renshaw dudded in Test selection race as cricket fans rip 'embarrassing' scenes

The Prime Minster's XI game against Pakistan had to be called off after the covers were blown off in a freak storm.

Matt Renshaw.
Matt Renshaw was denied the chance to continue his push for Test selection due to an issue with the covers at Manuka Oval. Image: Getty/Brett Sprigg

Matt Renshaw was cruelly denied the chance to push his claim for a recall to the Test team when a freak storm and issue with the Manuka Oval covers saw the Prime Minster's XI game against Pakistan abandoned on Saturday. A massive electrical storm hit Canberra around 8pm on Friday, and grounds staff at Manuka Oval discovered on Saturday morning that the covers had been blown off by 55hm/h winds and exposed the pitch to a downpour of rain.

Umpires and the two captains inspected the pitch late on Saturday morning, and decided the match would have to be called off one day early due to the pitch being unplayable and posing a safety risk. It meant the match ended in a draw, but it also denied Renshaw a golden opportunity to continue pushing his case for Test selection.

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Renshaw appears to be in a three-way battle with Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft to fill the opening batting spot that will become available when David Warner retires after the SCG Test in January. Renshaw was 136 not out when the match was abandoned, robbing him of the chance to post an even bigger total and send an irresistible message to Test selectors.

Matt Renshaw, pictured here in action for the Prime Minister's XI against Pakistan.
Matt Renshaw made 136 not out for the Prime Minister's XI against Pakistan. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

A double century would have put him firmly in the lead to replace Warner, but uncertainty still remains about which way selectors are leaning. There was bright sunshine and warm temperatures in Canberra on Saturday, meaning there would have been plenty of play if not for the wet pitch. Fans were left fuming over the debacle with the covers, labelling it "amateurish" and "embarrassing" for ACT Cricket.

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Bancroft made 53 on Thursday and Harris 49, with both failing to turn their starts into big scores. Cameron Green, who is also pushing for a recall after being overtaken by Mitch Mash during the Ashes, suffered the same fate as he made 46.

PM's XI captain Nathan McSweeney described Renshaw's unbeaten 136 off 337 as a pure Test innings, admitting he's glad he's not picking Warner's replacement. "It was easy to get frustrated out there with some shots you thought should go for four and you're getting two for it, so the mental strength for him to face as many balls as he did was impressive," he told reporters.

"That puts him in good stead I guess, along with the other guys, they've all batted well, so good luck to the selectors. They all have been (ready for Tests) for a while, they're all quality players who continue to churn out runs in Shield cricket, I don't think there's a bad decision to be made."

Renshaw had earlier credited his innings to his much-improved mindset. "It's just another game of cricket, all the other stuff takes care of itself," he said.

"Only a couple of years ago, I took a break from the game because of how much I was taking it seriously, that was a really big learning curve for me just to go 'why am I playing this game'? It's not to play for Australia, obviously I want to and that's the goal but at the end of the day, I'm going to try and enjoy myself."

Warner has previously declared Renshaw the man he would pick to replace him, but Bancroft is arguably leading the race after two stellar seasons in Sheffield Shield. The West Australian has 512 runs so far this season at an average of 57, compared to Renshaw's 348 at an average of 32.

Renshaw and Harris have both played 14 Tests for Australia to date, with Renshaw boasting an average of 29 and Harris 25. Bancroft has played 10 Tests with an average of 26.

with AAP

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