Young star Cameron Green and veteran Nathan Lyon shine out of the spotlight | cricket

YThey almost never want to be at the center of the Australian cricket discussion. Occasionally a player gets the spotlight for good reason, such as when a shape is so deep purple that it leaves smoke on the water. But far more often, the shift to center stage is due to the audience’s dissatisfaction: a desire to express concern about who is not playing well, who is gaining an unfair advantage, who should have already given way to a more worthy candidate, who should have given way unjustly is limited to a specific audience and has a lower level of competition. Marnus Labuschagne is the newest resident.

Cameron Green has never made it to the center of that spotlight, but in recent months he has begun to move into its orbit. Throughout his career he has been described as a player with potential, viewed for what he can be rather than what he is. The idea of ​​a six-foot fast bowler who can also smash hundreds of balls is compelling. But at some point players with potential have to perform.

Green made his debut in 2020, it is now 2024. He has played 27 Tests, as many as serious cricketers such as Bill O’Reilly, Bob Cowper, Darren Lehmann and Bruce Reid. Therefore, following David Warner’s resignation in January, there was public dissension when the batting order was unconventionally changed to accommodate Green at number 4.

The fact that Steve Smith was considered unbeatable meant that Smith moved on to open, denying recognized reserve openers Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris and Matthew Renshaw a chance. Those who didn’t like the move essentially had a question in two parts. Why should all this be done for Green? And what has he done for us lately?

That was a little unfair considering Green’s remarkable achievements at the age of six: his 77 against Sri Lanka with the ball raging in Galle, 74 on a green Hobart pitch against England with a pink ball, 79 against Pakistan in one crucial game in Lahore. Each of them got Australia out of a serious hole and helped them achieve a Test victory. His four-hour unbeaten 51 at the MCG with a badly broken finger wasn’t crucial to the win against South Africa, but it did show toughness.

24-year-old Cameron Green scored 208 runs in both innings to lead Australia’s victory in the first Test. Photo: Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

Still, useful fifties rarely stick in the wider memory like hundreds, and all of those innings came in 2022 rather than a quieter 2023. Until this week, the feeling remained that he was waiting for Green to deliver something clearly meaningful. The Wellington Test delivered: 208 runs in the game for a dismissal, while the rest of Australia’s listed top seven combined to score 178 for 12.

It was also about the way runs came about. Green began his innings less ponderously than often in the past, remaining calm while four colleagues fell, figuring out how to bat with the lower order, adding significant partnerships for each of the final four wickets, handling the strike with aplomb and attacking the right ones Moments on a difficult surface. The five sixes he smashed down the leg side seemed effortless given his power, and there were moments of skill, like steering a wide yorker behind point.

There was something that wasn’t always a feature of Green’s Test hitters: the agility of thought in contrast to his massive frame.

Nathan Lyon was the other big player with ten wickets, but he told ABC Radio he was pleased his teammate was named player of the match instead. “He had a bit of pressure on himself and probably a bit of self-pressure too, but he went back to WA, got a four-hit hundred there and came here. I really hope his confidence can reach a new level because he is a first class player and he has the full support of this dressing room. We see so much potential in Cameron that it’s not funny.”

At 36, Nathan Lyon is at his best, taking ten wickets in Australia’s first Test victory.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Lyon is at the opposite end of his career from Green and may still have a few years left. But like his teammate, he is still improving. The off-spinner has historically been downplayed as a specialist bowler with a career average of over 30, but in recent years this figure has steadily declined. Before the 2017 India tour, it was at 34.07, while this week it has fallen to 30.35, its lowest since its inception in 2012.

This sequence effectively divides his career into two halves, with 63 Tests up to his visit to India in 2017 compared to 65 since then. In the first period he took 228 wickets at 34, in the following period he took 299 at 27. So far in four games this year he has 22 wickets at 17.

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If seeing younger players develop their potential is an incentive for older players to further fulfill their potential, then this combination works for Australia. Green has shown that he is up to the level. The next challenge is to face it again and again. As Labuschagne now knows, the spotlight is never far away.

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