Young gun Green takes first steps in bowling return
WA allrounder back working with squad's bowling coach and being carefully monitored following stress fracture
21 March 2020, 02:16 PM AEST
Western Australia's rising star Cameron Green has taken the first steps toward a return to bowling as he continues his recuperation from a second stress fracture in as many seasons.
Scans on Green revealed the early stages of a lumbar stress fracture last December, with his most recent competitive bowling spell coming in WA's draw with Queensland at the Gabba the month prior.
It was in that match that Green's batting burst to life, with the allrounder scoring unbeaten knocks of 87 and 121 to help salvage a draw.
Those performances gave Western Australia confidence to push him up the order and play him as a specialist batsman for the remainder of the Marsh Sheffield Shield season, a model Perth Scorchers replicated in the KFC BBL.
But the prospect of the two-metre tall 20-year-old mixing the level to which he has elevated his batting with an already potent ability with the ball is mouth-watering.
Green snared two five-wicket hauls in his first five Shield games after first being picked as a 17-year-old specialist paceman and has now started work with WACA staff on some technical changes to his action in a bid to avoid another recurrence of his youthful back problems.
"He's just started doing some walk-through bowling with Matt Mason, our bowling coach," Western Australia head coach Adam Voges told cricket.com.au.
"He's excited about that. We're just going to keep him ticking over for the next couple of weeks so he can groove some technical changes.
"We feel there is some change that needs to be made – he's had two stress fractures in the past two seasons – so we're just trying to get him to have an action that's safer for him.
"Then the way we manage him when he gets back to playing as an allrounder is going to be really important.
"I'm sure he's still growing and developing so we need to make sure we look after him.
"But he's pretty happy to get a ball back in his hand at the moment."
Green told cricket.com.au last month he's looking forward to working with Mason, a Perth-born former pace bowler who forged a successful first-class carer through the 2000s with English side Worcestershire before joining the WACA this season.
"I got injured as soon as he came," he explained. "He's got a few new ideas which I'm looking forward to working on with him."
Green began the season batting at No.9 but was moved up to No.6 after his maiden ton. He scored a second century a game later against South Australia and was soon embedded at No.5, where he scored his third ton of the season against Tasmania in late February.
Throughout, the adulation came thick and fast, with comparisons England great Andrew Flintoff and a call from Ricky Ponting to fast-track him into the national set-up.
"Like a lot of young players, you get that one big score under the belt and with that comes a lot of belief and confidence you can perform at first-class level, and we certainly saw that throughout the year," Voges said.
His career-best 158 not out against Tasmania, on a difficult day-one Blundstone Arena surface with WA in a spot of bother before his arrival, saw him become just the second Australian to have scored three Shield centuries and taken multiple five-wicket hauls before turning 21.
The other player to have done it, Doug Walters, went on to be largely used as a part-timer rather than a frontline bowler during his 74-Test career.
And Voges, the former Test batsman who has now completed his second summer as WA head coach, has had an instrumental role to play in Green's development, though he admitted the rapid evolution of the young gun's batting took even his coach by surprise.
"If you'd told me he'd be in the top four Shield run scorers at the start of the year I wouldn't have believed you," Voges said.
"We certainly knew there was a talented batsman in there but his evolution and the way he's gone about it has been phenomenal.
"His decision making and maturity as a cricketer is well beyond his years, particularly to perform in pressure situations is a huge credit on him."
Green finished the year with 699 runs at 63.45 from his 15 Shield innings, with three centuries, numbers made all the more remarkable given he averaged 16.75 in first-class cricket before his breakthrough century.
Only Nic Maddinson, the competition's leading run-scorer with 780 at 86.66, averaged more in the 2019-20 Sheffield Shield season, and of the competition's top 10 run-scorers, only veteran teammate Shaun Marsh (1530) and Tasmania's Alex Dolan (1328) faced more balls than Green's 1304.
Meanwhile, amid the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the possibility of further lockdowns in Australian society, Voges has cautioned all his players to be wary of letting their fitness levels slip this winter.
"If commercial gyms close down and the WACA facilities have to go into lockdown, they will need to get creative at home to make sure they get the work in," he said.