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Cameron Green unlikely to play first Test against India

A specialist batter - Renshaw or Handscomb - is expected to be the replacement, with Australia fielding just four specialist bowlers

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
07-Feb-2023
Cameron Green is very unlikely to play in the first Test against India, to be played in Nagpur from Thursday, with the fractured finger he suffered during the Boxing Day Test requiring more time to heal.
Green did not bat during Australia's first training session at Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur. He did do some fitness work and light centre-wicket bowling, but Australia have opted for a cautious approach to his recovery given he had surgery to insert pins in his finger only five weeks ago.
He jarred his finger while batting during the training camp in Bengaluru, before travelling to Nagpur, and while it did not cause any damage, it was enough to make the team management cautious.
Australia vice-captain Steven Smith felt Green was unlikely to play given he hasn't faced fast bowling in the nets. "I don't think he is [going to play]," Smith said. "I don't think he's even faced fast bowlers yet. So I dare say he won't be playing but who knows. I'm not entirely sure. We'll wait and see.
"But it's unlikely, I think."
This would mean that Australia pick a specialist batter at No. 6 and just four bowlers for the first Test.
Matt Renshaw played in place of Green in the Sydney Test against South Africa at No. 6 but Peter Handscomb is also in the frame, with Australia's selectors considering the balance of the top six in terms of left and right-hand batters. If Renshaw were to play, Australia would have five left-handers in the top seven.

Matt Renshaw or Peter Handscomb?

Handscomb has also done a lot of short-leg training in the lead-up to the Test both in Bengaluru and in Nagpur, although Renshaw has also done some close-in fielding work, at silly mid-off. Both men are good close catchers but Handscomb is the more experienced of the two in those roles.
Scott Boland is a lock to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood. Lance Morris is the only other quick available but he only did some centre-wicket bowling in Nagpur alongside Green.
Australia look set to play two spinners and two quicks with the surface looking extremely dry two days out from the start of the Test.
"It's pretty dry," Smith said. "Particularly one end that I think will take a bit of spin, particularly the left-arm spinner spinning it back into our left-handers. There's a section there that's quite dry. Other than that, I can't really get a good gauge on it.
"I don't think there will be a heap of bounce in the wicket. I think for the seamers it will be quite skiddy and maybe a bit of up-and-down movement as the game goes on. The cracks felt quite loose. We'll wait and see when we get out there."
But no decision has been made on who the second spinner would be. If the surface looks like a raging turner, then Ashton Agar could be preferred over Todd Murphy to give Australia a left-arm orthodox option. But Murphy remained a chance to make his Test debut with Australia still considering the option of playing two specialist offspinners, with Nathan Lyon the primary choice.
If the surface does look like it will spin big from ball one, Australia might have considered three spinners, but with Green set to be unavailable, that option appeared off the table.
"I think if Green was fit it definitely be more of an option," Smith said. "Without him, maybe. I'm not entirely sure. I think we've got a strategy meeting this afternoon where we'll have a talk about what we think but ultimately it's down to the selectors to pick the team they think is best for the surface."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo