Green searching for maiden Test wicket
However, images of an elite all-rounder immediately comprise the likes of the fast-bowling Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee in his pomp, and Botham, and in latter years Flintoff, Stokes and Kallis.
Former Australian captain Kim Hughes told The Sunday Age and Sun Herald on the eve of the season that Green, whom he had closely worked with, could be a “special” talent in the manner of Kallis and Stokes, whose greatest skill is – and was – their batting. However, Kallis also finished with 292 wickets – sixth most in South African Test history – while Stokes has 158 wickets, with more to come.
In Green, the Australians undoubtedly have a fine batsman – his 199 runs at 33.16 at No. 6, including a fighting 45 in Melbourne and 47 in Brisbane on Saturday, have shown that. But through 36 overs from Adelaide to Brisbane, a wicket has not fallen.
There is no doubt he has provided valuable rest for the three frontline quicks and his pace – in excess of the 140km/h mark – and bounce are challenging. It should also be remembered that this is only his first summer back with the ball because of back problems and he had been on an overs restriction heading into this series.
He has years to develop his bowling craft and could yet emerge into a major force, as former Australian seamer Damien Fleming noted on Channel Seven on Saturday.
“He’s made changes to his action because of stress fractures. He’s come into this series with hundreds of runs in Sheffield Shield so his batting technique is grooved but, unfortunately, he is still trying to groove this bowling action which over time is only going to benefit himself and the Australian cricket team,” he said.
Fleming also noted the 21-year-old had been pitching too short through this series.
“He bowls full and definitely shapes the ball away [from] the right-hand batsmen. His first Test match in Adelaide, I think it was deliberate for him to bowl short to Virat Kohli. Now, since that Test match, I think he has bowled a fraction short, hasn’t given that red Kookaburra enough time to swing in the air,” Fleming said.
“But, you know, four-over spells in Shield cricket coming into this Test series, I don’t think he has built the confidence in his action yet.”
Ahead of Green’s Test selection, Greg Chappell said the Western Australian was so special that he was the best batting talent he had seen since Ponting in the 1990s.
“He’s got something special in that he’s 6ft 7in tall, we haven’t seen anyone of that size dominate from a batting point of view. And the kid can bowl, so it’s a real challenge,” he said.
Coach-selector Justin Langer said in Sydney after Green’s pugnacious 84 that “it looks like he’s almost born to play”. But when it comes to producing a blue-chip all-rounder, they remain cricket’s rarest of births.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.
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