The best thing the selectors can do for Cameron Green is to drop him from Test team … for now

An immediate recall to the Test team for a home summer feast against Pakistan and the Windies would probably get Cameron Green’s career back on track. 

But what would help him better in the long term is time out of the Test line-up so the pain of being on the outer fuels his motivation to become a truly great all-rounder. 

Pretty much every legend of Australian cricket experienced the sting of being dropped early in their career before bouncing back to etch their name into the pantheon of greats. 

In modern times it has almost been a rite of passage – Ricky Ponting, Allan Border, Steve Smith, Shane Warne, Michael Clarke. Even stretching back to the greatest of all, Don Bradman, who was left out of the XI after falling cheaply in his first two Test innings in the baggy green. 

For some players like Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Usman Khawaja, they spent years in the proverbial wilderness before getting their callback.

Cameron Green. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

There’s a long way to go before Green can show he can have a career anywhere near the stratosphere of these household names but he has the potential to be a game-changer for the next era of Australian cricket. 

With several established players entering the twilight of their career it’s imperative that the selectors manage Green’s trajectory from prodigy to prolific. 

He was identified as a future Test player as a teenager and fast-tracked into the state side at 17, taking 5-24 on debut for Western Australia against Tasmania before he was catapulted into national side before he was ready at 21, playing all four matches against the touring Indians in 2020-21.

The selectors were extremely patient with him as he found his feet at international level, which they needed to be. Most of the elite all-rounders in cricketing history needed time to get into the groove of being able to perform with bat and ball. 

It’s not that he’s been handed a rails run but there’s a sense that he has been given longer leeway than most players at the start of their Test career, that he hasn’t had to earn his spot as much as others who weren’t identified “in the system” at youth level.

After Green broke through for his first century in his 20th Test on the Ahmedabad featherbed earlier this year he struggled to adapt to English conditions during the World Test Championship final and first couple of Ashes encounters, making six scores of 38 or less while chipping in with five wickets. 

Not surprising given he had never played in the UK. 

But it was a surprise when he was jettisoned from the team for the third match at Headingley where Mitchell Marsh made the most of his recall with a blistering ton. 

Green didn’t do enough in the rain-affected fourth match when Australia adopted the defensive strategy of playing him as a fourth frontline bowler ahead of young spinner Todd Murphy and the Western Australian was again omitted for the series finale. 

Now the question for the Australian selectors is whether to return Green to the No.6 role for the upcoming three-Test clash with Pakistan, starting in Perth on December 14.

Marsh has done nothing to deserve being dropped – one-day form is not necessarily relevant to Test selection but the 32-year-old enjoyed a productive World Cup campaign in India. 

He seems much more assured at the red-ball crease than previous stints in the Test side when he appeared eternally struggling with striking a balance between long-form requirements and his naturally aggressive style. 

Mitchell Marsh celebrates after reaching his century in Leeds (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

It would be quite harsh on Marsh to give him the flick after four years out of the Test line-up to punt him after three matches where he has performed above expectations and, particularly with the bat, made a superior contribution to anything Green has been able to muster for a while. 

His next lengthy stint out of the Test team will probably be the end of his career whereas Green has plenty of time to get his game in order and become the 100-plus match player that Australia need him to be.

Interestingly, he has already indicated that he will give the BBL a miss this summer irrespective of whether he’s in the Test side or not. 

The cumulative effects of last year’s home summer, the Indian tour, maiden IPL tournament, Ashes sojourn and World Cup campaign have clearly taken a toll. 

He gets a rare chance to get some Sheffield Shield time in the middle at the Gabba on Thursday after sending down 11 economical but wicketless overs in Queensland’s rain-interrupted first innings of 8-274.

Never in doubt! Another classic grab from Cam Green ???? #SheffieldShield#PlayOfTheDay @MarshGlobal

— (@cricketcomau) November 29, 2023

Green will also press his recall claims next week in Canberra for the Prime Minister’s XI against Pakistan in what could be his last first-class fixture before the end of Australia’s Test summer. 

WA are not due to play another Shield game until February 3, after the end of the second Test of the lowly anticipated two-match “contest” against the West Indies, which is due to be held on January 25-29 in Brisbane although ticket sales for days four and five are likely to be on the slow side.

It is a crucial time in Green’s career. He could very well be picked in the first Test side and play his way back into form over the course of the five matches against outclassed opposition but will that be of much benefit the next time he takes on a heavyweight opponent like India the following summer?

A break, if enforced by the selectors, could do him the world of good as long as the communication from the Australian camp is clear that, on recent form, Marsh deserves the spot and that like the greats of the past who had to re-energise their careers at first-class level, there’s a path back to the side if he is willing to put in the hard yards.

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