Green set to focus on red-ball preparation ahead of India Tests


Cameron Green could be kept out of Australia’s limited-overs series against Pakistan at the start of the next home summer, ahead of a five-match Test series against India, to play Sheffield Shield cricket after the selectors were immediately rewarded for keeping him red-ball focussed before the Wellington Test where he delivered a match-winning 174 not out.

Australia’s selectors decided to leave Green out of the three-match T20I series against New Zealand despite Green being in the frame to play in the T20 World Cup in June. They were not even tempted to call him in late when both Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Hardie were withdrawn with injury.

Instead, they opted to leave him in Australia to play a Shield match for Western Australia against Tasmania at Bellerive Oval where he made an unbeaten 103 to help WA secure a draw on the final day. Green himself credited that preparation after his stunning century on the opening day at the Basin Reserve. He was the only player in the match to score more than 71 on a very tricky batting surface and was one of only three players to score more than 42.

Following the second Test in Christchurch which begins on Friday, Australia do not play another Test until the Border-Gavaskar series starts at home in late November.

Australia are scheduled to tour England for five ODIs and three T20Is in September and will then host Pakistan in three ODIs and three T20Is in November just before India’s arrival.

Green will likely be a permanent fixture in both the ODI and the T20I sides by that time given Australia appear set to have several senior players finish their T20I careers after the World Cup in June. But coach Andrew McDonald said he was already thinking that Australia would prioritise Green’s red-ball preparation next summer even though the ODIs in particular will form part of the 2025 Champions Trophy build-up.

“The next stress point on that’s going to be next summer leading into the Indian Test series,” McDonald said. “I think it’ll be a conversation where he’s at. I’d like to probably err on the side of preparing him through red-ball. We know how good a white-ball player he is. If you put a priority on what it looks like next summer, the white-ball cricket is important but, geez, that Test summer is important.

“I think with the results he’s had out there, he’ll probably come to us and say can you give us a couple of Shield games before the first Test against India.”

McDonald was careful to point out that not every multiformat player needs the same type of specialised preparation ahead of the India series. Australia have been comfortable with their three all-format fast bowlers – Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood – playing white-ball matches ahead of major Test series as the lesser bowling loads at a higher intensity has actually proved to be an adequate preparation for a long summer of five Tests or more.

This season they are set to play seven straight Tests together as a trio for the first time in their career having come off an ODI World Cup where they played at least 10 matches or more over two months in India.

“We’ll use Shield cricket to get ready for the Test summer on an individual’s needs basis,” McDonald said. “There won’t be any [prescription that] this is what we’re doing with every player. But we’ll pick and choose what that looks like, based around international cricket.

“It’s a big decision to leave anyone out of international cricket when they’re actually potentially in the best XI.

“I was glad that [Green] embraced that when we had that conversation with him. And the return on it was pretty immediate. It’s not always going to be like that. So even if he failed here, we felt like that was his best preparation. So don’t always judge a result as making it right or wrong.”

McDonald’s New Zealand counterpart Gary Stead lamented the fact that his players have not been able to play much first-class cricket in the Plunkett Shield before their Test summer.

“I would love as national coach to see us play some Plunkett Shield prior to going into Test matches and certainly it’s something that is high on my agenda to try and get New Zealand Cricket to keep thinking about the structure of our season,” Stead said.

McDonald was thrilled that Green was able to showcase the talent that they knew he was capable of at No.4 following the decision to recall him in that position against West Indies with Steven Smith moving to open.

“We think he can be a long-term option there and I think this is a big step towards that,” McDonald said. “The conversations are always that he’s obviously a quality player and probably the statistics that everyone was looking at early on in his career probably didn’t reflect the player that’s in front of us.

“And I think we’ve seen a snapshot of that now. And I think the public’s been able to see what we’ve been able to see over a period of time in Western Australian cricket and the changeroom as a whole.

“So [it’s] a really impressive step forward. The way that he worked through batting with Josh Hazlewood as well, we’ve probably had a little bit of an issue batting lower down the order. We’ve seen opponents do it to us. But he was able to navigate five balls, give Josh one, work through that tricky situation, but then to find the boundary at the right time as well to get the total to where it was. It was really impressive.”

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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