Historically, Australia might have England’s number, but for four decades, they’ve failed gloriously in their quest to unearth ‘The perfect all-rounder’.
And the Aussies have tried hard, in political terms, to give a ‘befitting reply’ to England’s uncovering of Botham, Flintoff and Stokes but every time, the Kangaroos have fallen flat on their face in their attempt to do so.
Steve Waugh provided hope early on, but him almost completely shifting his focus to batting meant that he could be no Botham; Watson, for a couple of years, behaved like a somewhat-inferior version of Jacques Kallis, but his immobile front foot dashed any hope of him creating a legacy; James Faulkner and Moises Henriques both started off with promise but their Test careers came to an end quicker than Kevin Roberts’ stint as Cricket Australia’s CEO and Mitchell Marsh’s career has been running as long as The Simpsons - minus the critical acclaim.
So after three full decades of failed experiments and dashed hopes, it looks like the members in the Australian cricket fraternity have *finally* identified who their answer to Botham, Flintoff and Stokes is - Cameron Green.
If you’re a cricket fan who happens to follow Cricket Australia’s Facebook or Twitter, or any page related to Australian cricket, there is a 100% chance that you would have heard of Green’s name. He is just 21 years old, he is tall, he can bowl at over 140 clicks and he can bat in the top six; he is the dream cricketer, as some would say. In the 2019/20 Shield season, he hit three centuries - the most by any player in the competition last year - and, on top of that, scored close to 700 runs. To be precise, at this very moment, in Shield cricket, he averages 43.84 with the bat and 21.53 with the ball.
These numbers are enticing, tempting and mouth-watering, and they fairly give you an idea of why people are absolutely losing their mind over the youngster. Ryan Harris said that he sees ‘shades of Flintoff’ in Green, Ponting stated that the selectors should have him around the Test squad to give him a taste of the international experience and, last week, skipper Tim Paine blushed that Australian cricket ‘can get very excited about the prospect of Chris Green’. It doesn’t end there. Western Australia’s coach Adam Voges spoke Green up, too, and Greg Chappell said that he’d pick the youngster in the Test side if Australia were to play a Test and a T20I simultaneously.
The hype might very well be justified, but it is of paramount importance that everyone takes a deep breath and has a glance at who and what they really are dealing with - a kid who still has a long, long way to go in the world of cricket. People jumping on to the bandwagon of a player who they believe to be a ‘generational talent’ on the back of a few outstanding performances is understandable, and it’s something that we’ve seen across sports for decades, but Green is far from ready to be talked about as an international cricketer.
The unblemished truth is that at this stage of his career, a potential fast-tracking into the national team for Green has ‘trainwreck’ written all over it. The Aussies did the same mistake 9 years ago with Pat Cummins - who, ironically, despite being way younger, had more top-level experience in 2011 than what Green has, currently - and all they would be doing by throwing him into the firing line after one good season is sabotage both his career and the country’s ‘project’ of unearthing their very own Flintoff.
Cameron Green is not ready for international cricket and it is not rocket science. This is a boy who turned 21 just 26 days ago and has played a grand total of 15 Sheffield Shield games since making his debut as an 18-year-old in 2017. What’s being taken into account is Green’s talent, ability, versatility and gamesmanship - all of which he showcased in the previous Shield season - but what’s been conveniently ignored is the fact that the youngster is far from being a finished product.
People rave about him as the next big all-rounder, for he can bat long and bowl fast, yet prior to his breakthrough season last year, Green had averaged 16.75 with the bat, playing primarily as a bowling all-rounder, and last season his batting saw an influx of runs because he bowled all of just 40 overs due to a persisting back injury; technically, Green has had one good season as a specialist bowler and one good season as a specialist batsman, and none as an ‘all-rounder’.
If all experts, for a minute, were to put aside their uncalled-for bias, then Green, right at this moment, is nothing but a very good youngster who has had one excellent season under his belt and should be nowhere near the national picture. No, it is not an attack on his talent or ability but the truth is that the all-rounder is a work in progress who needs time - and plenty of it.
Green needs time not only to develop his fitness and his own game but also to gather experience - something that he’s been lacking big time. People are quick to jump onto Marnus Labuschagne’s back and point out how ‘one game’ was all it took for him to turn things around, but what’s being forgotten is the fact that he already had over 60 first-class games under his belt, and a few international matches, too, before he turned things around; 15 Shield matches is all that Green currently has to show for, in his CV.
Cameron Green’s talent is unquestionable and his rise is a true boon to Australian cricket, but the country would go a long way in ruining his career by handing him a Baggy Green and rushing him into the Test side within the next 12, or even 18, months. What he needs currently is nurturing, care, guidance, opportunities and the right management, who would be willing to give him plenty of time and space for him to hone his skills and understand his own body and game.
‘Project CG’ is well and truly underway, but it’s Australia who will solemnly be responsible for its success or failure; perhaps, for starters, they could buy themselves more time by cutting down the hype.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi