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4-0 is sweet, but Cameron Green’s emergence is sweeter

Last updated on 16 Jan 2022 | 01:18 PM
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4-0 is sweet, but Cameron Green’s emergence is sweeter

In Green, Australia have unearthed a match-winner of the highest order

Since the start of 2019, across Sheffield Shield and Australia ‘A’ games, Cameron Green has accumulated 2110 runs at an average 65.9. In this period he’s struck 8 tons across 23 games, converting 4 of them into 150+ scores. Among those four 150+ scores is a 251 and a 197.

It is worth taking a deep look at these numbers. 

Because if you were someone who’d never heard of Green until today, and caught a glimpse of him for the first time when he was steaming in with the ball under lights, you would have been forgiven for thinking that he is featuring in the Australian XI as a pure fourth specialist seamer. 

Conversely, if you are someone who has watched each of the 9 Tests Green has been a part of, to date, the third session at the Blundstone Arena should have made it clear why there was so much hype surrounding him prior to his Test debut against India in Adelaide.

To steal Peter Drury’s words, “They said the boy could play. The boy CAN play.”

Doubtlessly, in the aftermath of what unfolded on the third day in Hobart, most of the attention will be directed towards England’s final-session collapse and the embarrassing manner in which they threw in the towel. Even by their comically low standards, what England showed in those final two hours with the bat was unacceptable - they batted as if they wanted the game to end in three days.

But as bad as England were in that final session, it would be criminal to not acknowledge what happened to be the catalyst for their implosion: a monstrously hostile, unplayable spell from Cameron Green that sent shivers down the spine of the visiting batters. 

A spell that would have brought several top-orders, not just England, to its knees. A spell that unanimously sent everyone watching the game go, ‘“Bloody hell, what a talent.”

On either side of the third session, Green bowled a total of six overs - six of the best in the series. 

He took three wickets, drew a staggering 38.8% false shots and, for an hour, made the life of Rory Burns, Dawid Malan, Zak Crawley and Joe Root hell. 

Plays and misses, close shaves, marginal DRS calls, hostile bouncers hitting the head - you name it, it had everything. Any fast bowler in history, at any point in time, against any batting line-up, would have been proud to have bowled such a spell. 

Take the context of the match into account and it makes Green’s efforts even more stupendous.

England were 68/0 when Green was introduced to bowl, standing a very realistic chance of winning the Test. The other seamers were getting little purchase and the pitch looked like it was starting to settle, particularly with the ball getting softer. 203 runs with 10 wickets in hand on Day 3 and 4 wickets in Australia is not the most impossible of tasks. 

By the time he was done, however, England were three down, with both the set batters (Crawley and Burns) back to the hut. Single-handedly he turned the tide in Australia’s favour when it looked like England might steal a victory.  

What will really encourage Australia, and give them all the more reason to believe that Green is the real deal, is that he provided these timely momentum-shifts all through the series.

In the second Test in Adelaide, it was Green who broke the 148-run stand in the first innings between Joe Root and Dawid Malan and triggered a fatal collapse that set-up a dominant win for the Aussies. At the MCG he broke the crucial partnership between Root and Stokes on the very first day, while on Day 5 of the SCG Test it was his wicket of Crawley (who was batting flawlessly on 77) that enabled the Kangaroos to sniff victory. 

It was also his dismissal of Root in the second innings in Brisbane that facilitated the hosts to roll the Three Lions over cheaply. The only innings in the series in which he did not take a wicket was the second dig in Adelaide, and that was only because Steve Smith consciously held him back to manage his workload. 

13 wickets in total in the series at 15.76 a piece, not even Green’s most ardent supporter would have, prior to the series, envisioned or predicted him to have such an influence with the ball, particularly after going wicketless across four Tests against India last summer. 

What Green’s emergence with the ball has done is truly add a whole new dimension to the Australian attack. They are now no longer a four-person attack like they were last year. This is now a genuinely terrifying five-bowler attack that comprises five individuals who can win matches on their own with the ball in hand. As England witnessed across five Tests, there is simply no respite. 

Which brings us back to the fact that, amidst all this, Green is predominantly still a batting all-rounder. 

It is with the ball that Green made most of the impact in this Ashes, but, as his first-class average of 50.14 suggests, batting remains his primary suit. 

And while a series average of 32.57 might look slightly underwhelming, the young right-hander played invaluable hands in the final two Tests. 

9 Tests into his career, Green, despite his flaws, has shown enough to suggest that he has it in him to someday be a mainstay in the middle-order. As Michael Hussey on commentary observed, the runs will start to flow once he gets past the initial barrier of scoring a maiden Test ton.

Cameron Green the Sheffield Shield batsman and Cameron Green the Test bowler coming to the party in the same match will be a terrifying proposition for any side to handle. It is a tantalizing prospect, but if the progress he’s shown across these last 5 Tests is any evidence to go by, then the day might not be far away. 

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