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Cam Green vindicates management’s faith to make the No.4 spot his own

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Last updated on 29 Feb 2024 | 06:29 AM
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Cam Green vindicates management’s faith to make the No.4 spot his own

The 24-year-old has played a fair few handy knocks in his 26-match Test career, but it’d be hard to argue against this innings being his best, yet

“Trust us, he’ll come good.”

It’s a phrase that the Australian management have kept reiterating over the past 18 months with regards to Cameron Green

Is Green actually the real deal? He has an average of 33.59 after 24 Tests. “Trust us, he’ll come good.”

Are you sure Green is qualified enough to be Steve Smith’s successor at No.4? “Trust us, he’ll come good.”

Are you sure you want to move THE Steve Smith up the order so that you can accommodate Green? “Trust us, it’s the right move.” 

Green has a long, long way to go before he can call himself a worthy successor to Smith, but today in Wellington, he’s taken the first step towards establishing himself as Australia’s long-term No.4 in Test cricket.

For all his talent, Green at No.6 felt like a square peg in a round hole. A very conventional red-ball batter, Green broke into the Test side by scoring heaps of runs for Western Australia batting in the Top four. 

His USP was not aggression. It was his ability to be able to construct an innings and score buckets of runs. But his inability to figure out the right pace to bat at No.6 meant that his best cricket never shone through consistently.

He’d admitted the same in the lead-up to the West Indies Tests."I've always felt maybe a touch rushed at No.6, especially after Heady [Travis Head], he makes it look a bit too easy at No.5. I've always felt like I've maybe had to push the game along where I feel like No.4 is my natural game, where I can take my time and get myself in,” Green had said.

After a pair of failures across his first two innings in the Windies series, Green showed promise in the second innings at the Gabba, where he looked in cruise control till 42 before getting a nasty one from a red-hot Shamar Joseph.

That little knock briefly showed that Green could thrive at No.4, but the youngster needed a statement knock to stamp his authority in the side and tell the world that he’s arrived. With his sublime century in Wellington today, Green has done just that.

Far too often in the past, Green would get in, survive, toil hard, but then get out after putting in the hard yards.

In 2023, he passed the 15-run mark in Tests seven times. But only one of those seven knocks turned out to be a 50+ score. Yet in the six instances in which he was dismissed under 50, he faced an average of 63.66 balls. He would threaten to go big but ultimately get dismissed at the wrong time.

But today, for once, the tables turned.

Not only was the ball doing a lot when he walked in, but Australia were also under immense pressure at 89/4, under the cosh against a quality bowling unit in alien conditions. On top of this, Green himself was under a fair bit of pressure too, having not justified his promotion to No.4 in the West Indies series.

Time was something Green did not have at No.6, due to which he struggled to go through the gears. But here, he showed what exactly he is capable of when he has the freedom to play his own way. The 24-year-old has played a fair few handy knocks in his 26-Test-long career, but it’d be hard to argue against this innings being his best yet. 

Seeing wickets tumble at the other end, Green prioritized survival for the first 50 balls of his innings, amassing just 13 runs. He restrained himself from playing away from his body and only drove balls that were completely overpitched. He showed discipline outside-off stump too, trusting the bounce and leaving on length.

This was part one of his innings.

Part two of Green’s innings involved him being proactive. With the pitch speeding up and the ball starting to talk a lot more, Green knew that he needed to put the bowlers off to enhance his chances. But unlike Mitchell Marsh, he did not explicitly take the attack to the seamers.

Instead, he put the bowlers off their length by giving them the charge and playing them well in front in an attempt to negate the movement.

And the plan worked. Not only did Green get more loose deliveries that he could dispatch, but he also could maneuver the ball much more easily.

The most impressive part of Green’s innings, though, was part number three, where he batted with the tail to take Australia close to the 300-run mark.

When Alex Carey departed, 36 was all Green was on. Australia were 176/6, and the big man only had the bowlers to give him company.

Remarkably enough, the 24-year-old went on to add 67 more runs to his tally off just 62 balls. He seized his moments, picked his targets and drove the side out of harm’s way without ever giving away the feeling that he was desperately trying to break free. 

Green has been playing knocks like the one today for Western Australia for over three years, but this version of his has seldom come out while playing Test cricket for Australia.

But it finally did, and the outcome turned out to be a very special century.

For the entirety of Green’s Test career, a sense of nervousness has surrounded him every time he’s walked out to bat, but for the odd occasion. It has in turn affected his game, evident by how nervily he starts his innings.

With a huge monkey off his back now, Australia will be hoping for the ‘nervy Green’ to be a thing of the past. 

Can he build on this knock, then?

“Trust us, he will.”

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