Cameron Green runs in and delivers a long hop. It was there for the taking but Shubman Gill was in two minds. He threw his bat around and couldn't realise anything as it flew above the bat towards Tim Paine. For a moment, cricket froze.
In isolation, there was nothing specific about this moment. But Adam Peacock was right in his element. If you’ve just woken up to watch that as the first delivery of the day, you might be surprised why the commentator was glorifying a nothing delivery, but then again, that is the beauty of Cameron Green, the 6ft 7-inch tall fame from Western Australia who has left the entire Drummoyne Oval and beyond quite excited about the future.
As Gill moved beyond the crease and started walking off towards square leg, perhaps trying to channelize the muscle memory that yielded him a lot of runs in domestic red-ball cricket and against New Zealand A earlier this year, Green was calm and was already taking his mark to bowl the next delivery. In the frame are two young cricketers with an almost similar target to fulfill in the coming weeks. Gill and his U19 partner Prithvi Shaw are auditioning to be Mayank Agarwal’s partner in the Test series while Green is pushing his cause to take that all-rounder spot in the side in the absence of Mitchell Marsh.
Not sure how many positives India can take away from the game, with cumulative 48 runs from the duo in two innings, but Australia can surely jump on their seat. For they have now unearthed their very own all-rounder who does stuff they dreamt many of their own would do in the past but failed. Green’s two-wicket burst and a valiant century to go with it will hold a lot of value as the side looks to strengthen their bench for the foreseeable future.
However, it was not like that even a few months ago. After being prevented from bowling for the majority of the 2019-2020 season due to a severe back fracture, Green was staring at an uncertain future. He had no other way than pushing his cause as a pure batsman. He did that successfully, shooting up his first-class average to 49.83 in the process, and even got Greg Chappell of all people to call him the “best since Ponting”. It was high praise indeed and tells you of his extreme talent, something Tim Paine later seconded after seeing the all-rounder during last month’s Shield Cricket.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on him, but I think all Australian cricket fans can get very excited about the prospect of Cam Green," Paine said.
"I've played a few Shield games against him and the first one all the senior guys noticed him bowling first and we thought 'geez he's a bit quicker and a bit better than I thought he'd be' and all the young blokes are saying 'just wait until you see him bat', and we thought 'there's no way he's going to be able to bat like he bowls' and then he came out and hit a hundred."
It was his 197-run innings against a strong New South Wales line-up that brought everyone together and earned him a spot in the Test side but it was when he batted at the Drummoyne Oval in Sydney, the world saw the true talent. Laden-footed Green made an agile Ravichandran Ashwin run for his money and forced the veteran to bowl unnecessary sliders on a regular basis. Even when Ashwin was in his full flow, trying to trouble him with the angling away deliveries, Green was batting like a dream.
Umesh Yadav has an almost decade-long experience at the highest level and he knows a thing or two about Australian conditions as well, having been here three times in the past. But this time was different. He had a point to prove and stay ahead of Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini in the pecking order. With that zeal came power and he became unplayable for quite a while on Day 2. The ball gently moved around and compounded with Yadav’s pace, you could be certain that Green would be in for baptism by fire.
Except he wasn’t. Not only did the Perth man negotiate Umesh’s frontal assault with one of his own in the post-lunch session, but he also set up a template for his much senior and Test captain Tim Paine to bat freely. The hooks and pulls were reminiscent of a much-famous Tasmanian with whom he has been likened more than once lately. Greg Chappell’s statement seemed so true at that moment.
"To me, Cameron Green is the next superstar of Australian cricket. He is a genuine prospect with bat and ball, but I think his future is as a batsman who can offer some quality overs. Cameron is a batsman of rare talent. At 6ft 7in, he could become something very special"
However, there is a caveat on the road. Matthew Wade has made himself a lock in the middle order with Travis Head for company and there is no real opening. Given Mitchell Starc’s unmatched record with a pink ball in hand, replacing him with a bowler is not an option either. Which indicates to the fact that Green will have to wait for his turn at least till the caravan moves to Sydney or at best, Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test. But the foundation has been laid and that the Australian fans and team management will embrace, more than anything else.