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Match Analysis

In Green, Australia have a batter who will shape their middle order for years to come

Whether he reaches the levels of greatness many believe is his destiny only time will tell, but the signs are that he will give it a damn good go

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
India are playing a big part in Cameron Green's career. They were the opposition when he made his debut. The brace of T20 fifties he crunched in September earned him more than AUD$3million in the IPL auction. Now he has scored his maiden Test century against them, an innings of such composure and class that if you didn't know it would be easy to think he had done it many times before.
Until tickling a sweep down the leg side off R Ashwin, it was a virtually faultless display. At most there were probably two moments of genuine unease. A bouncer from Mohammad Shami on the first evening which he fended short of gully and an outside edge today when he was in the 90s which flew inside the lone slip fielder.
The closest Green had previously got to three figures was also against India, in just his third Test, but that afternoon at the SCG he was chasing a declaration. He had, though, four times fallen in the 70s when there was less time pressure on his innings. It would, therefore, have been fair to be feeling some nerves when he went to lunch on 95. "That 40 minutes felt like an hour 40," he said.
But he did not have to wait long after the break, in the third over of the session putting away a short delivery from Ravindra Jadeja through the off side. As he reached the non-striker's end there seemed a moment where he was slightly uncertain how to celebrate before removing his helmet, giving a triumphant swing of the bat towards the Australia dressing room and the dug out complete with beaming smile.
How big of a factor was that broken finger he suffered at the MCG in Australia going 2-0 here before he had recovered? We'll never know, but the team immediately felt better balanced when he returned in Indore even though his bowling was only needed for two overs. Don't gloss over the 21 he battled to in the first innings of that match. He had not been in the middle for two months and was faced with one of the toughest surfaces you could imagine.
Green has responded to each new challenge of Test cricket with aplomb. In consecutive home summers, he has started slowly before finding a way through. In the 2021-22 Ashes he produced a counterattacking display on a juicy Hobart pitch having walked in at 83 for 4. This season he was finding his feet against South Africa, claiming a maiden five-wicket haul at the MCG, before the broken finger struck but he still battled to a half-century.
Between those two home campaigns he stepped into the subcontinent for the first time. He produced key innings in both Pakistan, a vital 79 in Lahore where the series was won, and his most impressive hand before this hundred when he adapted his game, sweeping his way to a match-winning 77 on raging turner in Galle. The recently released season two of The Test provided a glimpse into how impressive even his team-mates were with the way he adapted in Sri Lanka.
The surface presented for his century was more Lahore than Galle but there is now a weight of evidence that he has a game capable of success in all conditions. It was the authority of the innings that stood out, almost from the moment he took guard with Australia at an uncertain 170 for 4 and threatening to waste a good batting surface. His first boundary was a classic cover drive off Shami and his positivity made India's decision to take the second new ball late on the first day appear a mistake. In what became a masterclass of driving, 10 of his 18 boundaries came between mid-off and cover. He took advantage of India's quicks, striking at a combined 119 against Shami and Umesh Yadav, while showing more restraint against the accurate spinners.
In all this, it is worth remembering Green's career arc and really how rapidly it has happened for him. He made his first-class debut in early 2017 as a pace-bowling allrounder batting at No. 8 and 9 for Western Australia then back trouble meant he missed the 2017-18 season. His breakout batting performance came against Queensland at the Gabba where he made twin unbeaten scores of 87 and 121 in 2019.
It was around this time that he suffered a further stress fracture of his back which prevented him from bowling for a year, but the batting flourished. A rise to No. 6 became No. 5 and then No. 4. The latter could well become his Test berth in years to come. His ability to churn out big hundreds quickly became clear: scores of 158 not out, 197, 168 not out and 251 were among his centuries over the next two seasons. This best young batter since Ricky Ponting said Greg Chappell said in 2020, and this guy could bowl at 140kph as well.
One of the themes of this current Australian Test team is how they manage the transition into the next generation. Particularly in the batting, it would be a challenge if David Warner, Steven Smith and Usman Khawaja all went in a short space of time. They will leave some sizeable holes to fill, but in Green they have a batter who will likely shape their middle order for years to come. Whether he reaches the levels of greatness many believe is his destiny only time will tell, but the signs are that he will give it a damn good go.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo