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News

Cameron Green hits the right note playing second fiddle

Show stopper Khawaja compares young allrounder to Steve Waugh

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
08-Jan-2022
Cameron Green made his first fifty of the series, Australia vs England, Men's Ashes, 4th Test, 4th day, Sydney, January 8, 2022

Cameron Green made his first fifty of the series  •  CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

It wasn't the headline act of the day as Usman Khawaja again stole the show, but for the second year running Cameron Green helped set up an Australia declaration at the SCG with his first major batting contribution of the Ashes.
Twelve months ago he scored his maiden Test fifty against India and in this outing his hard work was rewarded as he overcame a nervy start with 74 off 122 balls in an increasingly free-flowing stand of 179 with Khawaja which ensured Australia's bid for a whitewash remained on track.
One of the few head-to-heads that had gone England's way had been their quick bowlers against Green, who had struggled to get himself into the series with the bat. He was bowled first ball shouldering arms in Brisbane, got a good delivery from Ben Stokes in Adelaide which took off stump before a few cheap second-innings runs, was tied down in Melbourne then pinned lbw by Jack Leach and in the first innings in Sydney edged to slip.
Green has the makings of a generational player for Australia but there will be ups and downs, especially with two parts of his game evolving at once. The bowling has been superb in this series - eight wickets at 12.62 a key part of the five-strong attack - but he was looking jittery at the crease.
Khawaja offered advice when the going was tougher - he had arrived with the innings wobbling a touch on 86 for 4 - and a brace of boundaries off James Anderson, a straight drive following by a clumping pull, helped to get him going.
"Cameron Green is an absolute weapon. He's a gun batsman," Khawaja said. "He's scored so many runs against Queensland. I hate playing against him in Shield cricket. He can do it at Test level, just needs a little time. It's not easy. It's tough work.
"I was just talking to him as much as I could, about what we are trying to do out there. He was talking about spin and I was saying what options I thought he could take. Just trying to give him reassurance, especially at the start, you could tell he was a bit nervous at the start. Made sure he kept his intent high, because I know like any other batter he plays better when the intent is there. I was just helping guide him through his innings and once he got to 30 he took it over himself."
Khawaja urged continued patience as Green evolves in the early stages of his Test career which so far tallies eight matches all at home. An upcoming challenge will be a first overseas assignment in Pakistan where his ability to be a third quick will be key in allowing Australia to play a second spinner when conditions dictate.
Khawaja drew a comparison with Steve Waugh who initially struggled in Test cricket - and after eight Tests Green's numbers are significantly better. He averages 30.58 with the bat and 27.37 with the ball whereas Waugh's figures were 17.20 and 31.33. Green's ceiling with the ball is much higher than Waugh's
"He's bowling beautifully and that's just a bonus. Even he knows it," Khawaja said. "He loves batting. You don't get players like Cameron Green very often and I think the selectors see that. Need to give this guy opportunity and time, to go overseas, experience different wickets.
"If you do that and invest in these players at a young age, something we haven't done as well in the past, you'll reap the rewards down the track. We saw that with Steve Waugh, the same can be said about Cam Green."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo