'Busy' Green seizes opportunity to push state dream

Sydney Thunder tweaker says he would love a state contract to add to his impressive T20 resume, and marked his return to NSW side for the first time in four years with four wickets

Chris Green likes being busy, because busy means he's playing cricket, a sport he loves so much that he shelved a promising junior tennis career to chase his dream of playing at the highest level. 

And although uncontracted at state level, 2022 has again been a busy year for the 29-year-old off-spinning allrounder. 

A full season in England's T20 Blast with Middlesex was followed by a second T20 title with the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League in September that has him primed for another strong Big Bash season with his beloved Sydney Thunder. 

Despite all his success on the global T20 circuit, the thing Green craves but hasn't yet landed is a state contract. 

However the South African-born, Australian-raised tweaker took a giant leap towards his goal on Thursday with a sensational comeback game for NSW where he claimed 4-20 from eight overs in his first game for the state in more than four years.

Green marks NSW return with four wickets

With Adam Zampa away on ODI duties, Nathan Lyon preparing for the Test summer and Tanveer Sangha recovering from back stress fractures, Green seized his opportunity with a disciplined spell to stake his claim for a more regular spot in the NSW line-up. 

But it was more hard work than good fortune that he was able to reignite his state career that had been dormant since October 2018. 

Every year during these months leading into the KFC BBL, Green is relentless in his hunger for match time to ensure he is primed for the Thunder and ready to go should an opportunity with NSW come his way. 

He's training up to four times a week with Anthony Clark, the NSW Second XI coach who helped him through his change of action when he was banned from bowling in early 2020.

Image Id: A474738077084130AAC7851A708226CA Image Caption: Green after winning the CPL title with Jamaica Tallawahs in September // Getty

And he's also been batting in the top-order, continuing the opportunity he received at Middlesex to bat higher up the order at No.7 where he finished this year's Blast campaign with 177 runs at 25.28 with a top score of 46no. 

As a kid Green played his junior cricket as a batter who bowled a bit, but his first opportunity at the top-level was as a spinner who could whack it in the latter overs, until his three-month bowling ban allowed him time to focus on his batting again. 

"I actually prefer to play the long format games (than) the T20 ones," Green told prior to his return for NSW during a trip to Canberra to promote the Thunder's BBL|12 opener on December 13.

"The beauty about playing these Second XI and club cricket games is I could bowl 20 overs, or even more, of just bowling my stock ball, which I still believe is my best ball in T20 cricket. 

"Getting the opportunity to bat three at T20s (for my) club and four or five in the longer format games, there's no substitute for me for getting time in the middle. 

"I have goals to continue to push up that order and contribute more and more regularly (with the bat), which was great to do so in England and be a lot more consistent. 

"I've been working hard on that part of my game just to be more consistent, particularly in T20, where I come in at the end facing anywhere between four and eight balls.

"If you do that role well then you potentially stay there and become a specialised player or if your team is in trouble, you do get an opportunity to face more balls, like I did at the SCG last season against the Sixers (with his maiden half century of 50 off 31 balls)." 

Green salvages Thunder with maiden Big Bash fifty

While his dreams of a state contract would mean more stability, Green reveals he enjoys the thrill of being summoned possibly anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat. 

"I could get a call tomorrow saying I've got to get on a plane in a couple of days or similarly I could get a call tomorrow saying we need you to play for NSW," says Green. 

"It took some getting used to at the start, but it's exciting opportunities when they pop up.  

"The chaos of running around to get ready to get on a plane to play somewhere and getting all your ducks in a row is for such a good reason.  

"And for me, it's to continue to chase my dreams and play cricket at the highest level.

"The experiences I've been able to get already in my career have been incredible and it's just about trying to chase them and to experience more and more and continue to play at this level for as long as possible.

"I don't have a state contract, I would love one. 

"There's opportunities in NSW through injury and representative cricket to push my case, which I always have wanted to do.

"Given the strong competition for spots in my role with Lyon and Sangha, and previously Steve O'Keefe, there have been limited opportunities in the past.

Image Id: 18810EDDD65A4CF2BF5EB8D5E8F4BAA0 Image Caption: Green celebrates a wicket for NSW in 2018 // Getty

"For me being here now on the ground and wanting to put in some solid performances perhaps that opens up an opportunity to play longer format cricket, which is something that I know helps me prep for the shorter format as well." 

And although he has set himself a target of higher aspirations, if franchise cricket and his bowling ban has taught him anything, it's to not look too far ahead. 

Described by Green as a "technical slip", the crafty right-armer was suspended from bowling during BBL|09 when biomechanical testing determined his off-spinner and faster ball resulted in his elbow bending beyond the allowable 15 degrees. 

Green, who signed a record six-year deal with the Thunder in November 2019, credits the forced bowling hiatus and subsequent technical tweaks as making him a better bowler.

He says it was also the wake-up call he needed to commit to nailing the basics of his skills. 

Green leads NSW fightback with five wickets

"The big thing I learned with my technical slip with my bowling is ensuring that those fundamentals in my game are in the right place," he says.  

"Because when they're in the right place, then I'm giving myself a good opportunity to play cricket. 

"And if I'm playing good cricket, then I'm hopefully busy here in Australia and around the world … and when those cricket opportunities come, I'm in a good place to contribute to the team success. 

"I'm lucky … I still get opportunities to play high-level T20 cricket, and those opportunities are very lucky to be around the world. 

"For me, that's been my way of continuing to improve my game for the last four or five years now.  

"It's a different route. But we've seen through a number of players now it can be a successful one as well to then transition back in (to the state system) and it allows me to continue to push my case in a different avenue."

Image Id: B7F66E9701EF4C2D93FA5698D25C2898 Image Caption: Green got an opportunity to bat No.7 for Middlesex during the 2022 T20 Blast // Getty

Green's impressive return for NSW on Thursday could have him in line for a first-class debut next week against Western Australia with Lyon, Zampa and Sangha still absent, and NSW also have another Marsh One-Day Cup match remaining before the Big Bash break, against Queensland on November 27.

Green had been signed by the Northern Warriors in the Abu Dhabi T10 League that begins next week, but will skip that tournament now he has cracked the NSW side. 

"I want to … utilise any opportunity I get, whether it be club cricket, second XI cricket, state cricket or T10 to prepare for the Big Bash because, for me, that's the most important time of the year," Green explains. 

"I love playing for the Thunder, they were the first club that gave me that opportunity to play on the big stage here in Australia."

NSW squad: Trent Copeland, Mickey Edwards, Matthew Gilkes, Toby Gray, Chris Green, Liam Hatcher, Moises Henriques, Baxter Holt, Daniel Hughes, Hayden Kerr, Kurtis Patterson (c), Jason Sangha, Chris Tremain

WA squad: Sam Whiteman (c), Cameron Bancroft, Hilton Cartwright, Sam Fanning, Cameron Gannon, Matt Kelly, David Moody, Josh Philippe, Corey Rocchiccioli, D’Arcy Short, Charlie Stobo, Teague Wyllie