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Feature

Cameron Green now makes a mark in T20Is after being 'thrown into the deep end'

Before Mohali, Green's highest T20 score was only 36. After Mohali, he may just be the ideal understudy to Australia's T20I openers

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
21-Sep-2022
In his most recent YouTube round-up of the world of cricket, India offspinner R Ashwin picked out his players to watch. The third of them was Cameron Green, in itself hardly a left-field choice - given his recent form - but Ashwin added this comment: "I am sure some team will break the bank for him in this year's [IPL] auctions."
He couched it by saying if Green was available and there are a whole load of factors which mean he might not be - everything about his career has been very carefully managed so far - but it was a mark of his standing in the global game after barely two years of his international career. Even more so because, when Ashwin made his remark, Green had played 14 T20s and had a top score of 36.
However, it was only a matter of when, not if, he would make an impact in the format, and it came on Tuesday in Mohali. Having never opened in his professional career - "I'm assuming that won't be the batting order," Matthew Hayden said on commentary when the team list was put up - Green strode out with a record chase in front of Australia and promptly dispatched his first four deliveries against Umesh Yadav to the boundary. His brute force was later on display when he peppered the crowd on the leg side.
It has been quite the few weeks for Green with the white ball: he claimed a maiden ODI five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe, then secured a backs-to-the-wall chase against New Zealand in Cairns, at the end of which he was barely able to move due to cramp. If you go back a little further to the tour of Sri Lanka, he calmly saw Australia across the line in a low-scoring scrap in Colombo.
"[I was] kind of got thrown in the deep end a little bit," Green said at the post-match presentation where he was named Player of the Match for his 61 off 30 balls. If the aquatic theme is continued, he's taking to each new challenge like a duck to water.
Green is a certainty in the Test side at No. 6 and the ODI spot is now looking increasingly secure, but even as recently as a couple of weeks ago, he was uncertain about the route his T20 career would take, at least in the short term. "Everyone aspires to be [a three-format player] but will just have to wait and see how heavy the schedule is, how much time you get to actually improve your T20 game," he said during the series against New Zealand.
He had not been named in the World Cup squad and was on this tour because David Warner was rested. If Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis had both been fit, he may still not have got this chance. He signed a deal with Perth Scorchers which means he will play in the BBL for the first time since 2020 after the Test series against South Africa, but it still felt as though it could be the format that played third fiddle for a while. Things might have changed now.
The move to open the batting was not a last-minute call. It's an option that has been discussed by both Australia and Scorchers for quite some time as way of giving the teams more flexibility. A hallmark of Green's early white-ball career is proving to be his adaptability. He has gone from being an ODI No. 8 to being a T20I opener in the space of a few weeks.
"He impresses every time I see him," Matthew Wade said. "I saw him a couple of years ago for WA and he was a bowler who batted nine, to see where he is now is quite remarkable. The plan was always for Greeny to open, the coach and captain feel like that's the best spot for him to really find his feet at T20 level and he showed tonight that will be the spot for him going forward for a while."
Warner will return for the World Cup (and the final string of warm-up matches in Australia) while there is confidence that Marsh and Stoinis will be fit, but Green is now clearly the first-reserve should batting reinforcements be needed. Wade said he is viewed as the ideal understudy should anything happen to the incumbent top three.
"[It's] really impressive to see a young player go out in front of a packed stadium chasing [209] - and he copped a bit of tap in his last over bowling - to seem to be able to just turn it around and go and put a performance forward like, that is good signs," Wade said.
This was one innings, in belting batting conditions and it's easy to get carried away, but evidence is only mounting that Green will be a generational player. And these days that invariably means a player in great demand. Whether it's next year or not, Ashwin is unlikely to have been far off the mark.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo