Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb scored centuries at SCG against Pakistan on Day 1 and 2    Getty Images
Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb scored centuries at SCG against Pakistan on Day 1 and 2 Getty Images

Australian Test side has undergone a major change in the last month or so. While a few players like Nic Maddinson and Callum Ferguson failed to make an impact in their limited chances, two youngsters Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb have put their hands up and showed that they belong at the highest level. While Handscomb has been a part of Victoria s set-up for over five years, Renshaw made his Test debut after playing just 12 games for Queensland. No doubt that both have made promising starts to their international careers. Handscomb has struck two tons in six innings already. Renshaw, on the other hand, is not far behind, as he has a fifty and a century in his six knocks. But how long will this smooth run continue?

The Australian selectors have to be lauded for the fact that they roped in someone like Renshaw. He is just 20, and has not completely gone through the rigours of First-Class cricket. He came in at a time when Australia failed to find a good opening partner for David Warner since Chris Rogers retired. Australia tried the likes of Joe Burns, Shaun Marsh and even Usman Khawaja, but none have managed to deliver at the top. The selectors were forced to take a chance with Renshaw, and it paid off. He does not match Warner for shot-for-shot. He knows his strengths and sticks to it. There is nothing flashy about the way he bats, but is effective.

FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Australia vs Pakistan 3rd Test at Sydney

However, as far as Renshaw is concerned, there is very little movement off the back-foot. His back-foot remains cemented, while it is his front-foot that makes a trigger movement. With his back-foot rooted, he at times could struggle with the short deliveries. Mohammad Aamer, in fact hit Renshaw, on the helmet as he could not rock back after his initial movement put his front foot across. Pakistan did not bowl too short at him in this match. They could have had him earlier had they persisted with short-pitched deliveries.

Like Renshaw, Handscomb, too, does not make any initial movements at the crease, keeping the bowlers guessing right till the end. The fact that he was hit wicket in the third Test was not surprising. He bats extremely deep in his crease and also has a high back-lift. He backed away and tried to carve the ball on the off-side, but he accidentally hit the stumps. It is a surprise that this was the first time he has been dismissed in that fashion in his career (by his own admission).

Handscomb, however, does not have much of feet movement. He depends mainly on his hand-eye coordination. We will often see him drive, though. He does not get to the pitch of the ball. Moreover, he stays back instead, playing them off the back-foot. Again, not a very attractive player to watch, but he does the job for his side and that is what matters at the end of the day.

Even Australia skipper Steven Smith has a very awkward stance. He moves about his crease way too much, and his strokeplay (at least parts of it) are not really eye-catching. But he is today the No. 1 ranked Test player in the world, having a Test average of nearly 60.

To be the best in the world, one has to adapt to every condition in the world. Fighting it out when the chips are down, digging in deep, getting through sessions, concentrating every minute: play every delivery like it s your first.

Looking ahead, Australia have a very tough tour of India coming up in February. Renshaw and Handscomb will straight away be thrown into the rough sea. Whether they sink or swim, we will know by the end of the tour. But what is certain is that the experience that they take back with them. While it is one thing to do well in home conditions, it is a completely different-ball game to perform in unfamiliar conditions, especially in the Indian subcontinent. The Australian side were recently whitewashed in Sri Lanka at a time when they were ranked No. 1. While there were a couple of bright performances, Australia, as a batting unit, failed in those conditions. Most batsman fell prey to some quality spin-bowling, and could not survive as long as they would have hoped for at the crease.

There is already a discussion among many cricketers and in the media whether Shaun Marsh should be preferred ahead of Renshaw for the India series. Although Marsh is in and out of the side due to injuries as well as inconsistent performances, one cannot deny the fact that he has performed exceedingly well in Asian conditions. He also struck an excellent ton in Sri Lanka recently, a nation where he averages 78.60 in three Tests. In the most recent Test against them, he scored 130 against the likes of Rangana Herath, Lakshan Sandakan and Dilruwan Perera on turning tracks. While Marsh has made a case for himself, it would be unfair to drop Renshaw after his excellent show of late.

Australia are not known to give Test debuts to raw talents quite often t, especially the ones who are yet to establish themselves in First-Class cricket. We have seen Australian players such as Brad Hodge, Michael Hussey, to name a few make their Test debuts in their 30s. But we have also seen some like Ricky Ponting, Phillip Hughes, Pat Cummins and most recently Ashton Agar being picked when they were about 19 or 20.

While it can be termed as a gamble, when it pays off there is nothing better than a young cricketer taking on the best in the world and succeeding. Renshaw and Handscomb have certainly paid a huge part in resurrecting Australian cricket after their whitewash in Sri Lanka and a 2-1 home series loss to South Africa. However, the recent success will be soon forgotten if they fail to replicate their form in the series to follow.