Shane Watson declares Cameron Green is ready for Test cricket but says temper the expectations
Shane Watson has pleaded with the Australian public to embrace budding superstar Cameron Green in a way they could never manage for him.
Australia’s most scrutinised modern-day cricketer signed off from his own stellar career this week with a wish that the young prodigy, who Greg Chappell has dubbed the best talent since Ricky Ponting, not be held to unrealistic expectations just because of his freakish all-round abilities.
Green, 21, has the makings of a once-in-a-generation cricketing phenomenon who could transform Australian cricket.
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Shane Watson says Cameron Green must be embraced by the Aussie public.Source:Getty Images
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He averages 50 batting at No.4 for Western Australia, and can open the bowling with 140km/h thunderbolts at a towering height of two metres.
But having that rare ability to do it all brings with it a persistent pressure to be superman.
Watson has urged selectors to unleash him against India this summer, but hopes Green can be shielded from the ruthless spotlight he experienced as a Test all-rounder.
“He’s got all the tools as a young guy to be an incredible all-rounder. From his batting alone, he looks like he’s ready to go,” Watson told News Corp.
“It’s not easy, but there’s a way to be able to manage some of his incredible skill, to be able to draw the best out of him.
“There’s never that many all-rounders that come through in Australian cricket, or world cricket, because it’s challenging, and that expectation is always going to be there.
“I just hope the Australian public and the media and the expectations around are just a bit kinder and gentle, because there’s no reason why someone – just because they’re an all-rounder – needs to be exposed more than other people.”
When England all-rounder Ben Stokes broke Australian hearts with perhaps the most clutch match-winning innings of all time in last year’s Ashes, Green was completely oblivious.
Green’s calling card is his prodigious batting.Source:Getty Images
“I actually hopped on a plane home from India when England were nine down and needed like 80 to win and I was chilling,” Green said.
“Then I landed in Singapore and saw we’d lost, and I was like, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’.”
Green might not have seen Stokes’ heroics with his own eyes, but there is a feeling he has it in him to replicate similar feats for an Australian side that has waited 65 years for the second coming of Keith Miller.
A teammate at WA of another heavily criticised all-rounder in Mitchell Marsh, and a student of Watson’s career, Green is fully aware of what he’s up against.
“Their records are not that bad given how much negativity they cop,” said Green.
“There’s a bit of a thought with all-rounders that if you don’t perform with the bat you can catch up with the ball, but the Australian public don’t really see that. I think Mitch said it really well a couple of years ago when he said they really just demand good results with bat and ball at all times.”
The Australian public had a love-hate relationship with Shane Watson.Source:Getty Images
The fact not even WA bowling coach Matt Mason can say whether Green’s strongest suit is with the bat or ball suggests this kid is capable of clearing the jump, no matter how high the bar might be set.
“I watch him bowl and you can just see the game changes,” Mason said.
“Then you watch him bat and he nearly scored 200 the other day. He just does not want to get out, ever.”
The fact Green is 3cm taller than Mitchell Starc is a scary prospect. Just ask selector George Bailey, who was down the other end when the West Australian made his Sheffield Shield debut with a five-wicket haul in February 2017.
“His first ever over in first-class cricket was as good as I’ve ever seen,” said WA teammate Andrew Tye.
“He had George playing and missing five out of the six balls.”
But amid all the hype around Green, physical comparisons to Starc don’t seem as pertinent as WA Cricket Association CEO Christina Matthews’ assessment of his demeanour and character.
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“He reminds me quite a bit of Josh Hazlewood. Unpretentious and just a really happy-go-lucky sort of bloke,” said Matthews.
“I think the key to his success is going to be the fact he doesn’t appear to get sucked into all the talk about him.”
Australia’s No.1 superstar Steve Smith has been in a bubble in the IPL for the past two months, but even he can feel the excitement.
“I had the one Shield game against him at the SCG,” said Smith.
“The short time he was out there facing Starcy, Cummins and Hazlewood, it looked like he had a lot of time, which as a batsman – time is huge.”
Bowling doctor Mason feared Green was falling out of love with bowling earlier this year after the latest in a long run of back stress fractures.
When Green reaches three figures, he usually goes big.Source:Getty Images
Unlike most injured quicks, Green still held his place in the WA team on batting alone, and has slowly rebuilt his action to the point Mason believes a massive Test debut against the might of India this summer is not too much to ask.
“As a batter, absolutely not. As a bowler, with the right care around him in terms of expectations of overs, I think he could play a role,” said Mason.
“But wins and losses matter at the international level, so it’s going to be the ability of the powers that be to keep control of what he does while trying to win a Test match. That’s always going to be a tricky balance.”
For that reason, Australian great Mike Hussey – who played his career alongside an injury-plagued Watson – has urged for calm heads to prevail.
“We just need to be patient. Pick him when he’s ready to go rather than picking him when he’s not quite ready,” said Hussey.
“We don’t want to ruin the kid mentally before he even starts.”
Originally published as‘Don’t ruin him:’ Aussie great’s fear for rising star
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