Cricket: What did everyone expect Matt Renshaw to do?

By James Matthey of News.com.au

Australia's Matt Renshaw. Photo / AP.
Australia's Matt Renshaw. Photo / AP.

OPINION

I've never soiled myself in front of millions of people.

But despite my lack of experience in the department, at an educated guess, I'd say it's probably not something you want to experience.

Matt Renshaw came dangerously close to knowing first hand just what that would be like on day one of the first Test between Australia and India in Pune. Shortly before lunch the Aussie opener started feeling unwell, and when Umesh Yadav bowled David Warner, Renshaw didn't hang around to partner his captain Steve Smith at the crease.

He ran off the field, meaning Shaun Marsh had to come out to the middle and bat with Smith until the break. Renshaw later returned to top score for the Aussies with 68, but he still copped criticism from former greats.

Allan Border couldn't remember ever seeing a player retire ill, saying if he was captain, Renshaw would have copped a gobful.

"I can tell you what, if Shaun Marsh was dismissed in those last 15 minutes I would've been ropeable as captain," Border told Fox Sports. "I hope he's lying on the table half dead because otherwise I wouldn't be happy as captain."

Former Australian Test players Gavin Robertson and Damien Martyn both took aim at Renshaw, and Smith was less than impressed with the rookie when he told him what was going on with his guts.

"When you need to go to the toilet you've got to go to the toilet," Renshaw said after play. "(Steve Smith) wasn't too thrilled about (going off) but he understands when you need to go to the toilet you've got to go to the toilet so it wasn't an ideal scenario but it's life, pretty much."

But for all those out there laying into Renshaw, what was the alternative? We'll tell you. You either go off the field or - wearing all white, remember - void your bowels in front of thousands in the stands and millions watching at home on TV.

Now, if you want to blast Renshaw for not being tough enough, for not showing the requisite resilience needed in Test cricket, for being selfish, ask yourself this: Would you soil yourself in front of the world?

Would you etch your name into sporting folklore as the first person to wear brown pants during a Test match? Would you be willing to make yourself the answer to a trivia question asked at pubs around the world for as long as you lived?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then fair play, say what you want. But if it's not, pipe down.

If you do think you'd have the guts - pun intended - to use the playing field as your personal toilet, make sure you take a history lesson before you fully commit.

Frenchman Yohann Diniz lost control of his bowels in the marathon during last year's Rio Olympics. Images and footage of his faeces running down his legs were streamed around the world. Whenever someone Google searches Diniz, that's the story they'll find.

Swedish long distance runner Mikael Ekvall suffered the same fate during a half marathon in 2008 and English football legend Gary Lineker had to shuffle along the ground to try and clean himself up during a match against Ireland at the 1990 World Cup.

Would you want future employers, partners and family members being bombarded with stories of your bodily functions every time they checked you out on the internet?

Some will find this funny, others will respect it. In Diniz's case, he was hailed on social media for his brave effort. But would Renshaw have received the same level of appreciation?

We'll never know because Renshaw made the perfectly logical, perfectly acceptable decision not to soil himself in front of the cricket-loving world. Sure, it was bad news for the Aussies because it meant they had two brand new batsmen at the crease trying to survive the final 15 minutes before lunch, but do you think Renshaw would have been able to concentrate fully if he was worried about his pants acting as makeshift toilet paper?

Dean Jones played the most famous innings by an Australian on Indian soil when he scored 210 in the tied Test in Chennai (then called Madras) in 1986. He was violently ill during his knock, reportedly losing seven kilos in the process. When he came off at breaks his teammates would undress him, sit him on a chair and throw him in the shower because he was barely able to do it himself.

Border batted with Jones and refused to show him any sympathy. He allegedly told Jones just after he reached his double ton he needed to harden up or else the Aussies would "get a Queenslander out here" (Border hails from the sunshine state).

It's a line that will live in Australian cricket folklore forever, and shows just what a hard taskmaster Border was at a time when Australia was trying to regain credibility. But that was before Facebook, before Twitter and before Youtube. It was before memes and before gifs.

So cut Renshaw some slack, and the next time you need to do a number two, be grateful you're (most likely, we're assuming) not facing the difficult choice of whether to do it in a bathroom or on a cricket field in a match being broadcast around the world.

- news.com.au

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