Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
Day-night cricket disturbs the rhythm of a Test match. Players, umpires and spectators all wake up with the usual anticipation and then have to wait half the day to get going. For a debutant opener like Matt Renshaw, this extra time must have felt like eternity. Yes, Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part.
After the fitful breakfast, the waiting around at the team hotel, the brief drive to Adelaide Oval, the cap presentation from Ian Healy and the warm-up, Renshaw had to wait again when news arrived that Australia's captain Steven Smith had lost his sixth consecutive toss.
For most of the day he waited patiently at first slip, a position held by numerous Australian opening batsmen in the past, from Shane Watson and Mark Taylor to Matthew Hayden, that other big Queensland left-hander Renshaw undoubtedly resembles.
The wait was worthwhile when Hashm Amla's edge arrived at a comfortable height for a sure-handed first Test catch. Later, Renshaw would have been better off not waiting to receive a gentler parabola from Temba Bavuma: he was caught on his heels as the ball died before reaching him on the half-volley.
From that moment, Renshaw could have been forgiven for expecting to bat before the lights took full effect in Adelaide. Australia's seamers had done well to reduce South Africa to 6 for 149, avoiding a telling contribution from Quinton de Kock for the first time in the series thanks to a bouncing, seaming Josh Hazlewood delivery to rank with those once bowled time and again by Glenn McGrath.
But a Faf du Plessis special, putting a defiant exclamation point on his week of ball tampering purgatory, meant Renshaw had to wait again. As they have done all series, South Africa's lower order offered pesky support, personified best by the way the debutant Tabraiz Shamsi combined impudent blows down the ground and verbals with the fielders.
All the while, du Plessis maintained his Adelaide serenity to ease past three figures. Four years ago he made 78 and a monumental 110 not out on debut to save a Test. An unbeaten 118 this evening left du Plessis with an Adelaide average of 306. His parting shot to the Australians was declaration so exquisitely timed it meant David Warner was unable to open after briefly leaving the field due to a shoulder complaint. Renshaw's wait would end with his state captain Usman Khawaja at the other end.
After Khawaja took the first over from Vernon Philander, Renshaw squared up to Kyle Abbott. He is tall and rangy with some flourish to his movements. Most loose-limbed of all is his raising of the bat to let the ball past. In Hobart, Australia would have avoided a good deal of trouble by letting more balls go. In Adelaide, Renshaw faced 18 balls from Abbott without scoring, and left exactly half of them.
There is a fundamental numbers game to an opener letting balls pass: bowlers get impatient, look for the stumps and offer up deliveries at pads and hips. So it was for Renshaw, as his first three balls from Philander included two offerings he could work comfortably through the leg side for boundaries. A crowd of 32,255 was aware of the need for some steel from this young batsman at the vanguard of a nervous team, and cheered his abstemious leaves almost as loudly as his first runs.
One final test arrived in the shape of Kagiso Rabada, an uncommonly smart bowler for someone so young. Fittingly, he chose a tempter first up to Renshaw, a virtual half-volley angled across the batsman towards the slips. To the delight of countless former opening batsmen watching from the stands or on television, Renshaw once again crouched forward while pulling his bat up and away from harm.
Of course, on a well-grassed pitch against bowlers of this class there would always be a few deliveries too good for any batsman; Renshaw was beaten several times. But it was telling to see here how he played rigorously down the line, protecting the stumps and body but not jerking his bat out to try to cover late movement. Tall a man as he is, Renshaw still offered a far smaller target than others have done.
Having survived those 12 overs, Renshaw walked off with Khawaja to the cheers of Adelaide's spectators. Through his first day's Test cricket, he had been patient in waiting to bat. The mental energy expended while doing so made his brief occupation under lights all the more meaningful, both for Renshaw and for Australia. Not even the unnatural rhythms of a day/night Test seemed to affect him.
South Africa vs Australia
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