Matt Renshaw knew that if he batted well for Australia, he'd likely get a shot at playing for the Ashes against England. Those Ashes are contained in the tiny urn that is the prize for winning the oldest series in test cricket, and which symbolizes the long and often-heated bilateral sports exchanges between England and its former convict colony.
Despite being born in Yorkshire, and being family friends with the current England captain, Renshaw didn't take much persuading to choose sides when he was selected to make his Test debut for Australia in November last year against South Africa, aged 20.
A year later and 10 tests into his international career, Renshaw is expecting plenty of verbal banter from the England players and their "Barmy Army" of fans in the series-opening match starting Nov. 23 at the Gabba.
He may even have provided some fodder, unwittingly, as a 6-year-old learning the game and trying to emulate the likes of England skipper Joe Root, who is five years his senior.
"I used to cry when I got out and he (Root) is probably going to pull that one out maybe," Renshaw said Tuesday. "It'll be interesting to see."
Renshaw arrived in Australia with his family when he was 10, after spending three years in New Zealand. He was given a rookie contract with Queensland state straight out of high school, potentially to keep him out of England's selection sights. And after a relatively short apprenticeship in the Queensland Sheffield Shield team, he was picked to partner David Warner at the top of the order when Australian cricket was in a rebuilding phase.
While it's unusual for an England-born player to play for Australia, it's not uncommon for England to embrace players from all parts of the old Commonwealth.
Renshaw wasn't sure if he'd roll out the welcome mat for Root before the series but hopes to be standing at close quarters and well within hearing distance when the Test begins.
"Hopefully I can catch him a couple of times at first slip," Renshaw said of the England skipper, who averages 53.76 per innings from 60 tests, including 13 centuries.
"He's a very good player and hopefully we can get him out quite quickly early on," he said. "He's one of the best four batsmen in the world at the moment, so we've just got to treat him like any other batsman and try and get him out cheaply."
Renshaw will have friends and family from Britain and Australia in the stands at the Gabba, home of cricket in his adopted home.
"I've got a few family friends coming out for the Ashes ... it'd be nice to play in front of them," he said. "It's probably a little more (special) playing against my birth country but it'd be great to beat them, wouldn't it?"