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Cameron Green is 'almost born to play' Test cricket - Justin Langer after youngster's maiden fifty

Having batted in tricky and testing match situations before, the allrounder was in his element with Australia looking for quick runs in the third innings of the Sydney Test

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
The future has been unfolding in front of us over the last few days in Sydney. There will be bumps along the way, but as Cameron Green joined Will Pucovski with a maiden Test fifty - and he started to plunder the ball into the SCG stands - it felt like the two elements of the next era of Australia's batting line-up was taking shape.
Green was on a pair when he walked to the crease, following his first-innings working over by Jasprit Bumrah, a valuable part of his Test education in itself, but it ended with him having the first chance to bat with freedom after two matches where he walked in with Australia 65 for 4, 124 for 4 and 98 for 4. He is selected to handle those situations, but there is nothing wrong with willing a young player just starting his career to have something resembling a little less pressure.
Today he walked in with Australia's lead on 242, a position of relative comfort, but Green still had to earn the right for the fun he was able to have later. The end result was a half-century off 116 balls and then 33 runs from his next 16 deliveries before a selfless end with tea approaching which looked like it would have been his cut-off for three figures. This has not been a pitch for free-scoring, but for a few minutes that did not matter.
One element that stands out about Green's batting (as it does with Pucovski) is the time he usually has to play his shots. He rarely appears rushed. However, during his early Test innings, there has just been a sense of him not quite being able to find the gaps in the field. Plenty has been played impressively solidly, but without reward. Not that he seems to get flustered; his strength at first-class level, where his strike-rate is a tick below 50, is the ability to bat long periods of time.
After his 21-ball duck in the first innings, he was encouraged by coach Justin Langer to be a little more urgent at the crease. There was a bit of a sense this innings could go the same way as he reached 15 off 50 balls - there was plenty of time in the game, but Australia did not want to stand still - then he drove Mohammed Siraj straight of mid-off in a shot of simple elegance. While the main acceleration came after the half-century, from that point he made 69 off 82 balls.
"Since he's come into Test cricket looks like he's almost born to play," Langer said. "I thought he was a bit defensive in the first innings and that's certainly not how he plays in first-class cricket and we just encouraged him to be a bit more positive and look to score.
"A lot of people have talked about this sixes he hit but I just thought his whole innings, the way he was driving the ball down the ground, was looking to push and hit ones, he looks like a real class act and he played beautifully today. It will be a relief for him to get his first Test fifty, would have been nice for him to get his first hundred, but he's a great guy to have around and he's doing a good job."
The shot to reach fifty had a dose of fortune, a thick edge just evading gully off the luckless Bumrah, but two balls later he flicked the switch. A stand-and-deliver swing sent the ball over deep midwicket against Mohammed Siraj and two overs later the same bowler was on the receiving end of two crunching blows over long-on. As an aside, it was a good indication that his limited-overs numbers will become a lot better than they currently are.
A fourth six in 12 deliveries, this time a ferocious front-foot hook off Bumrah, took him into the 80s but next ball it was over, an inside edge as he attempted another swing with the clock ticking down to tea.
Clearly there had been instructions - and with Tim Paine alongside him in the middle, it would have been easy to know what they were - but it was still selfless for someone seeking their maiden Test hundred to so freely play for the cause. However, we'll never know what Paine would have done had Green been, say, 96 not out at tea and if he would have followed the Kane Williamson route from a few days ago when he allowed Daryl Mitchell time for his maiden hundred in Christchurch.
Regardless, he will get plenty more chances and it would be a surprise if it took too many matches to bring up a hundred. David Warner's undercooked return has not worked out how Australia would have wanted and Matthew Wade's match will put the spotlight back on him, but if the home side are able to wrap up victory on the final day, the next generation will have more than played their part.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo