Newly minted $3 million man Cameron Green upstaged hometown hero Scott Boland on Boxing Day as Australia’s vaunted pace attack inflicted more misery on South Africa’s tormented batters.
The crowd of 64,876 came to the MCG to watch Boland write another chapter in his fairytale Test career but instead witnessed what could be a coming of age performance by one of world cricket’s brightest young prospects.
Cameron Green celebrates one of his five wickets on Boxing Day.Credit:Getty Images
Undaunted by one of the biggest days of the country’s sporting calendar, Green stepped up to collect his first five-for in the baggy green, ramming home Australia’s advantage with a scintillating burst of four wickets in 12 deliveries.
“It’s a very special feeling, I’ll remember that for a very long time,” Green said.
As the No.6, Green’s primary role in the team is with the bat but even though the runs – and opportunities – have dried up he will not be a concern for selectors if he can reproduce such efforts with the ball.
The all-rounder made the key breakthrough of the afternoon when he found the outside edge of Kyle Verreynne’s bat after drawing the gutsy gloveman forward to play down the wrong line.
The importance of the play could be seen by the events before and after his intervention. Verreynne and Marco Jansen had revived the Proteas’ innings with a 112-run stand for the sixth wicket, only for the visitors to then crumble, losing 5-10 in 24 balls and 26 minutes.
The Proteas are in a rut with the bat, failing to pass 200 in their past seven innings.
It has been a heady few days for Green, whose contribution this summer had been largely limited to his sharp fielding and catching at gully such has been Australia’s dominance.
Last Friday, he fetched a jaw-dropping $3.15 million at the Indian Premier League auction – the most expensive deal at the lucrative Twenty20 tournament for an Australian – and now he is the man of the moment.
“That’s probably cricket summed up. You can have a really slow start to the summer and think cricket is so tough then you have a few days like this, and it brings you back,” Green said. “At the same time when you go through your highs cricket can bring you down pretty quickly.”
Green’s value to the Test side is more difficult to quantify but perhaps better assessed by how few players in Australia’s history have been able to have such an impact with the ball while also commanding a place in the top six.
Green was on fire with the ball.Credit:Getty Images
“It gives your attack so much balance,” former Test star and national selector Mark Waugh said on Fox Cricket. “For someone to come on as the fourth bowler and bowl with this much quality it’s a very powerful bowling line-up with him there.”
Though this was his first bag of five in 18 Tests, Green has been a dependable bowler for skipper Pat Cummins, who has used him as more than just a partnership breaker even if the youngster’s workload is carefully managed to protect his back.
His pivotal spell came while senior quick Mitchell Starc was receiving treatment in the dressing rooms for a finger injury.
Left-armer Starc was off the field for about half an hour after hurting the middle finger of his bowling hand attempting a difficult catch in the outfield.
Starc’s finger appeared to be bent from the top knuckle but a team spokesman described the issue as “soreness”, and he returned with the digit bandaged. He was not required to bowl.
Boland was the sentimental favourite for the punters, who erupted when the local lad touched the ball in the field.
As he did last Boxing Day, the Victorian played only a minor role, claiming just the wicket of opener Sarel Erwee in the 11th over of play.
His bowling average is now out to 11.26, having closely mirrored the 100-metre time of a male Olympic sprinter by hovering in the nines and tens.
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