Cameron Green believes it would be a “stretch” for him to open the batting in Test cricket as the moment gets closer when Australia’s selectors will need to decide how to balance the playing XI for Old Trafford.
Green missed the Headingley Test with a minor hamstring issue – which he said he would have been able to play through if needed – and Mitchell Marsh grabbed his opportunity with a scintillating hundred on the opening day to rescue Australia. Marsh also bowled tidily and the selectors now face a quandary over how – or if – to fit Green back into the team.
The least disruptive route would be to take the rare option of not playing a frontline spinner, leaving out Todd Murphy, who was sparsely used in Leeds, and using Green as part of an all-pace attack supplemented by Travis Head, but coach Andrew McDonald has been firm on how he prefers a balanced bowling group.
Therefore, the selection squeeze has turned the spotlight back on David Warner, who failed twice against Stuart Broad at Headingley. While McDonald stopped short of guaranteeing his spot, he did cite the value of the opening stands he added with Usman Khawaja at Edgbaston and Lord’s. Warner has been supported by Ricky Ponting in recent days to retain his spot and leaving him out would also require a reshuffle of the order.
Marsh and Green have even been floated as potential options given they have done it in white-ball cricket – Marsh recently in ODIs and Green in T20s – although neither has regularly been higher than No. 4 in first-class cricket, and it remains a very unlikely solution.
“I think it’s a bit of a stretch,” Green said of the possibility of him opening the batting in the fourth Test. “I think being an allrounder [makes it a stretch] – probably Shane Watson is the only one who comes to mind doing that – [and] I’m not too sure how much he bowled.”
Watson was recalled to open the batting midway through the 2009 Ashes and it went on to be his most successful position in Test cricket, with an average of 41.79. On average, he bowled close to 15 overs in those matches and he claimed the third-most wickets (43) of a pace bowler to have opened the batting. Green currently averages a little over 13 overs per Test.
“I think anyone would be happy to bat anywhere to play Test cricket,” Green added. “You always put your hand up for selection but have to wait and see what selectors think.”
The other option the selectors will need to consider is whether to bring Green straight back in. His returns with bat and ball on tour, which includes the WTC final against India at the Oval, so far have been underwhelming, with respective averages of 19.16 and 45.60.
“It’s been a tour so far with a lot of learning,” Green said. “Most of the time, I’ve got myself out rather than to do with the conditions. I think that’s to do with the wickets, it’s been quite flat. I am just trying to learn as much as I can and hopefully it holds me in good stead moving forward.”
Unlike most of the squad who have taken a complete break in the gap before Old Trafford, Green has continued to train. He said his absence from the third Test was a very precautionary move and he could have pushed through. He picked up the hamstring niggle batting in the second innings at Lord’s and was able to bowl 13 overs afterwards which included the sustained short-ball approach.
“[There were] no real issues at the time, it was more it’s just a long tour so I think everyone kind of wanted to get a break throughout one of the games, so that was my game,” he said. “The body is all good. Felt completely fine bowling. Think I just took off for a single and felt something very, very minor.”
Green and Marsh are very close and while the latter’s superb return to Test cricket may mean Green now has to wait for his next outing, there was delight in his team-mate’s success.
“We both have a great relationship,” he said. “We’re so happy for each other when one gets picked…I kind of look up to Mitch, so I’m so happy to see him play well. There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to come back and play an incredible game, which he did.”
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