The flying visit to India for three T20Is last week may yet transpire to have been one of the most significant periods in Green’s career as he stamped his mark as an opening batter which has likely put huge dollar figures next to his name for the IPL.
The carefully managed early stages of Green’s career due to his history of back injuries is now entering a critical phase as he emerges as a three-format player at time when Australia have a huge amount of major series and tournaments on the horizon, and now with the likelihood of franchises coming calling.
While Green is not, yet at least, part of Australia’s T20 World Cup squad, his upcoming international schedule is packed: five home Tests against West Indies and South Africa, four Tests in India, the Ashes in England (plus a potential World Test Championship final) and then the ODI World Cup this time next year before another home summer. That list does not include other bilateral white-ball commitments, plus domestic cricket for Western Australia and Perth Scorchers, with Green having recently signed for the latter.
There remains caution around Green’s bowling workload – he was eased back into bowling on the Sri Lanka tour after a break and was rested against New Zealand recently after suffering cramp – and while in Tests he is now largely unrestricted, Cummins admitted it is something never far from his mind.
“It’s one my first thoughts whenever I bowl him is we don’t want to burn him,” he said at an event to announce NRMA Insurance as new CA sponsor. “Think it’s been a huge win from the medical side of things to have him play as much cricket as he has over the last couple of years, fortunately he can fall back on his batting even if he’s not bowling.
“Now he’s in and around three formats it becomes even more important. He someone who loves playing, even when he goes back to WA we have to manage that as well. There’s 15 Tests in the next few months plus a World Cup, lots of cricket.”
And then there’s the call on his services from other teams. “You can’t really blame anyone for going in [the IPL],” Cummins said. “He’s going to have huge demand on him wherever he plays. Decisions will be made, there’s a lot of cricket around.”
More broadly, Cummins cautioned CA to be aware of the rapidly changing landscape in the game despite international cricket, particularly Tests, remaining a strong format in Australia. The Daily Telegraph recently reported that Cummins had turned down a big-money offered from a city-based T20 league in India. It’s likely to be a topic discussed during the next MoU negotiations.
“[They] have to be proactive, the world’s changing, almost every month now there’s new leagues and opportunities popping up around the world,” he said. “We are lucky in Australia that for all of us players and the fans, Test cricket is No. 1. Whenever there’s a Test tour on, that’s where all of us players want to be.
“But we can’t take it for granted that will always be the case. Maybe [it’s] the way we structure contracts, manage different players because unfortunately, or fortunately, it’s the reality of the world.”
In the short-term, Green offers Australia a ready-made replacement should they have to make an injury-enforced change ahead of the T20 World Cup. For all the clamour about finding him a place in the squad that is the only way he will break in for this tournament, although more substantial scores against West Indies next week will keep the topic front and centre of the build-up, particular if others are short of runs.
“Think we are starting to just not get surprised whenever he takes another step up, he just looks at home straightaway,” Cummins said. “[It was] a new role opening the batting and to take on, play with bravery, that’s what you want to see from any young player. It’s a tight squad to get into at the moment.”
Australia’s T20 squad comes back together next week to begin their final lead-in to the World Cup with two games against West Indies on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane before three matches against England in Perth and Canberra. They then have one more warm-up match against India before facing New Zealand at the SCG on October 22.