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Green was prevented from bowling for the majority of the 2019-2020 season due to back problems but is expected to be able to resume his full all-round role in time for this coming summer. His early numbers in first-class cricket are eye-catching with a batting average of 43.84 and bowling returns of 21.53.
He scored all three of his centuries last season – the most by any batsman in the 2019-20 Sheffield Shield – becoming just the second player after Doug Walters to have three hundreds and two five-wicket hauls before the age of 21. One of those centuries, an unbeaten 158, came against a Tasmania team featuring Paine, towards the back-end of last season. And the Australia Test captain also came up against Green with the ball in Perth earlier in the summer before the back problems intervened.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but I think all Australian cricket fans can get very excited about the prospect of Cam Green,” Paine said. “I’ve played a few Shield games against him and the first one all the senior guys noticed him bowling first and we thought ‘geez he’s a bit quicker and a bit better than I thought he’d be’ and all the young blokes are saying ‘just wait until you see him bat’, and we thought ‘there’s no way he’s going to be able to bat like he bowls’ and then he came out and hit a hundred.”
“To me, Cameron Green is the next superstar of Australian cricket. He is a genuine prospect with bat and ball, but I think his future is as a batsman who can offer some quality overs. Cameron is a batsman of rare talent. At 6ft 7in, he could become something very special”
Australia have long-searched for an allrounder to balance the Test side, particularly on flatter pitches or overseas when two spinners could be required. Paine was able to study Green’s batting closely from behind the stumps, especially during the match in Hobart where he faced 366 balls across the two innings.
“He’s an exceptional talent,” Paine said. “Certainly playing against him he was really impressive out in the middle, looked like he was in complete control of his game and really knew what he was trying to do, and to see him moving around the crease, there were a couple of little things I noticed when I was keeping against him where I thought ‘he’s pretty impressive’, not only is he talented, but he looks like he really knows what he’s doing. It’s an exciting thing for an Australian cricket fan to have someone like that on the horizon.”
In a recent feature for ESPNcricinfo, where two teams were selected for the hypothetical notion of Australia playing a Test and T20I on the same day, former Australia selector Greg Chappell picked Green in his 12-man Test squad.
“To me, Cameron Green is the next superstar of Australian cricket,” Chappell said. “He is a genuine prospect with bat and ball, but I think his future is as a batsman who can offer some quality overs. Cameron is a batsman of rare talent. At 6ft 7in, he could become something very special. I would bat him at No. 6 to start with, but I reckon No. 4 is his long-term position. The sooner he gets to play at this level, the sooner he will become the player that he should be.”
Australia won’t be picking their next Test squad until November at the earliest – they are due to play Afghanistan in Perth from November 21 – although there remains a change the limited-overs teams could still return to action with a tour to England in September. If the T20 World Cup is postponed, as looks all-but certain, and a rescheduled IPL played in the same time frame, there is the likelihood that some of Australia’s contracted players will be absent from domestic cricket. But Paine believes that the national set-up will be well prepared by being able to have a long pre-season with Covid-19 restrictions lifting in most of the country.
“The next Test we’ll play is our summer, so we’re really lucky here that we’ll have a pre-season, all our nationally contracted players have gone back to their states, which is a great thing for both them and all our young domestic players in the country to be learning off Steve Smith, Marnus [Labuschagne], Pat Cummins and all these guys,” he said. “You get a mental freshen up, which your David Warners and Pats and Steves never get, but also these guys are getting to do a full pre-season, getting their bodies right, which they haven’t been able to do for a number of years.
“I think our Australian cricketers will be as well prepared as they’ve ever been come their first game, whether that’s Test cricket, one-day cricket or T20.”