Marsh Sheffield Shield 2019-20
Echoes of Flintoff in gifted Green, says Harris
Aussie high performance coach preaches patience with young WA allrounder after his match-saving maiden ton in Shield clash at the Gabba
6 November 2019, 06:26 PM AEST
Ryan Harris believes Australia might finally have found their answer to Andrew Flintoff in Western Australian Cameron Green, but urged patience with the giant allrounder after his stunning breakout performance in the Marsh Sheffield Shield.
Green, who has taken 27 wickets at 21 in nine Shield games, showed why WA believe he could also one day bat in their top six as he spared their blushes with two match-saving innings in their drawn clash with Queensland.
WA had slumped to 7-171 shortly after the 20-year-old's arrival at the crease in their first innings, showing composure beyond his years to help put on 172 for the final four wickets before running out of partners 13 runs short of his maiden ton.
Green then became the youngest Western Australian since Marcus Harris to achieve that milestone two days later after entering in even more dire circumstances, dragging his side from 7-53 and looking set for an innings defeat to bat almost three sessions for a draw.
His marathon player-of-the-match efforts were a telling demonstration of his promise, and has drawn the attention of national coach Justin Langer, who threw him into the fringe of debate around spots for this summer's Domain Test series against Pakistan.
Harris, the former Ashes-winning fast bowler and now a Cricket Australia high performance coach, got his first glimpse of Green's potential when the raw two-metre tall prospect joined the National Performance Squad (NPS) in 2018.
"It wasn't until then that I understood how good he really was with the ball," the 27-Test former quick, who has helped strengthen Green's bowling action, told cricket.com.au. "I knew he could bat, I'd heard a lot about that and just watching him I knew he was decent with the bat.
"But when I saw him bowl it was the first time in a long time I've actually thought, 'This guy is a genuine allrounder'.
"He can bowl at good pace, in the high 130s (kph) if not low 140s, he's accurate. With the bat, he's threatened to make a big score and he's obviously done that and batted very well at the Gabba.
"I think ideally (WA coach) Adam Voges would like him to bat in the top six. That's an option he probably gives. He's still got a lot to learn about the game, so it's about not rushing him."
In all, he batted for 339 balls at the Gabba (22 more than he'd previously faced in his entire first-class career) and made 208 runs without being dismissed – a feat made all the more impressive given Green battled back soreness that will preclude him from bowling in WA's next game against NSW.
"I'm super happy to help the boys secure a draw after we felt at the start of the day we might have been out of it," Green told cricket.com.au. "It's a really nice to finally get a couple of scores out of the way in the Shield.
"There were a few periods (in previous games) where I've been overawed with the occasion and the bowler. At times, I've played the bowler instead of playing the ball. Walking out onto the Gabba and the WACA, such incredible grounds, you can get a bit overawed.
"To get a score out of the way will hopefully clear my mind, in a way, make me less nervous moving forward."
The right-arm quick also gave the visitors their first breakthrough of the match with the ball when he hit Test hopeful Joe Burns on the foot with a yorker.
He proceeded to put the rarely-unsettled Usman Khawaja on his backside off the first delivery he faced with a brute of a bouncer that whizzed past his helmet.
Whispers of Green's prowess with the ball have been doing the rounds in Australian cricket since he collected a five-wicket haul before he'd reached the legal drinking age on first-class debut against Tasmania three summers ago.
Back injuries and understandable caution from WACA coaching staff limited him to eight games in the years since his emphatic entrance, but the stop-start nature of his career to date hasn't prevented him from putting up remarkable numbers with the ball.
But for someone with a frame as imposing as Green's, it might be his batting that generates the most excitement.
With his side on the ropes at the Gabba in their first dig Green showed off a grace rarely seen in cricketers of his size when working Queensland's fast bowlers off his pads for boundaries, while a series of jaw-dropping pull shots were a telling sign he's not long for the No.8 slot he currently occupies. (He was moved down a spot in the second innings after WA employed a nightwatchman.)
The overall package makes Green a truly unique prospect in Australian cricket, with Harris mentioning him in the same breath as Flintoff – the once-in-a-generation talent who helped England win the 2005 Ashes.
"The only one that comes to mind is 'Freddie' Flintoff," Harris said when asked if he'd ever seen someone that tall excel with the bat.
"He's not as thick as Freddie yet. But height-wise, he's very similar. Freddie was tall, hit the ball pretty hard. Cam's got a bit of filling out to do – which he will do.
"He moves pretty well, he's got the athleticism to do all that. At this stage of their career, (young fast bowlers) are still growing into their body and they're a bit gangly. We've just got to let him mature and develop into his body over two, three years.
"Hopefully from there he gets stronger and knows where everything goes in his action."
Harris' colleague at the NPS and former Test opener Chris Rogers has told Green to study another hero of the '05 Ashes, Kevin Pietersen; in particular how the 193cm England great used his height to his advantage.
"I always saw myself as a batting allrounder through junior cricket," Green continued. "Batting was my forte but coming to Shield cricket, I probably wasn't good enough (to bat in the top order) so luckily I had bowling up my sleeve to get picked.
"There's a few guys who are tall who I've looked at before (as models). Chris Rogers has mentioned Kevin Pietersen as someone I should watch. He was pretty tall and dominated with the bat and was a huge presence out in the middle."
Having suffered through the inevitable back injuries that plague young fast bowlers (a stress fracture ruled him out of Australia's 2018 Under-19 World Cup campaign), Green has had to come to terms with the enormous training ethic required to be an allrounder at the top level.
Shane Watson is the last Australian man to have a higher batting average than his bowling average, a feat that required tireless work in the training nets.
"I remember speaking to (Green) and saying, if he wants to be a genuine allrounder, he's going to have to put a lot more time and effort … into both his batting and his bowling," Harris said.
"Using Shane Watson as an example, he was always the last to leave training – he'd bat for a while, then he'd have to have a bowl and then he'd have to field.
"I don't see any reason why they have to rush him (to bat higher up the order), especially if he's going to be bowling more. It's a tough job – Shane Watson did it for such a long time … it's a really hard thing to do.
"To do all three skills is hard work. 'Greeny' wants to do that and that's part of the role we play at the NPS, to help him understand what it takes."