Australian opener Matt Renshaw decided to walk off the field mid-way through his inning when he had an uncontrollable urge to go to the toilet. He had extended it to the point where he could no longer hold on to it and as David Warner was dismissed, Renshaw informed the umpire that he had to go off. The outgoing Warner and incoming Steve Smith were confused and surprised as to what he was doing.
He was batting on 36 at that point and was declared ‘retired ill’. The left-hander returned to the field later on the day following the dismissal of Peter Handscomb. Renshaw played with the same intent and flow in the second part of his innings and put together a characteristic half century, one that will enhance the reputation of the 20-year-old to a substantial extent. He showed the kind of application required to excel in unfavorable conditions against a quality attack that was pouncing upon to dominate.
He became the second youngest Australian opener after Philip Hughes to score a half century overseas. He occupies the fourth spot in the top five with the other four in Hughes’ name. His 63 was the best score by a batsman in the first innings at least among the top order. He was the first and only to score a fifty untill Mitchell Starc at No.9 did that as well.
Later in the media interaction after the end of day’s play, Renshaw was asked about his side of the story and he said, “It came pretty suddenly. Probably five or 10 minutes before Davey (David Warner) got out I asked Richard (Kettleborough) how long there was till lunch, he gave me the answer of ‘half an hour’and I was struggling a bit then. It wasn’t an ideal situation to be in.”
It was a pretty natural thing, one of those hardly in power of any human amongst us to control but to some, it was a sign of maybe some sort of weakness, lack of character or strength. I was surprised to see former Australian skipper and a legend himself Allan Border’s comment.
Talking on Fox Sports about the incident he said, “It’s such a shame, we saw him having to go off 15 minutes before lunch. I hope he is lying on the table there half dead otherwise as a captain I would not be happy.”
Another former skipper Michael Clarke was live on commentary at that time and couldn’t believe it either. Clarke said, “Only 15 minutes until lunch, I can’t believe Renshaw is retiring. He must be extremely sick and has a stomach bug and has to go to the bath room – this is unbelievable. Steve Smith didn’t know what was going on, coming on the field and seeing his partner run past him.”
Did it really call for such responses of shock or to be termed a shame? It might be a rare and an unusual incident but not the first time that something of that sort happened. Very recently in 2015 former Indian captain MS Dhoni had to walk off the field for a similar ‘Toilet break’ and he handed over the gloves to Virat.
At that time former umpire Dicke Bird was also quoted saying that it had happened to him as well while he was officiating. “I am not aware about the opponent, but in one of the Test matches at Old Trafford, I had to leave the field with the permission of the England bowler,”
“I don’t remember much about the incident but I think the bowler was Ian Botham. I spoke to him and went off the ground for toilet and returned soon running down with my hand on pant zip,” the 83-year-old had said.
Renshaw had an option of keeping his bat at the edge of the ropes along with his gloves and taken a break – as per Ed Cowan’s tweet, a batsman is allowed 3 minutes to go back to the dressing room and return. He gave an example of Kevin Pietersen doing that in a match at the SCG.
The laws of cricket are silent about any such possibility for a batsman. Marleybone Cricket Club (MCC) law states: “A substitute fielder shall not be allowed for comfort breaks, or for when a fielder leaves the field to go to the toilet.”
Renshaw, in this case, took a legitimate break; he had a stomach bug which is pretty understandable as well. He is in a new country, different climate, the heat of Pune and completely different food. Indian food is spicy and isn’t for someone not really accustomed to it. We have in the past seen incidents when players have had bouts of motion after eating the spice-laden Indian curries.
The people I have quoted above are all legends in their own right but we shouldn’t be judging someone or taking a dig at him for something as basic as going to the toilet. It is only humane to understand his situation and take it as just another incident that happens in the rich game. Not everything calls for reactions, judgements, and opinions while this is one as well!