Not for the first time this Marsh Sheffield Shield summer – and surely not for the last – the day belonged to Australia’s newest batting sensation, Cameron Green.
With three Shield matches being played across the country, there was considerable scope for statements to be made and names to be put up in lights.
And typically, already, despite his tender years, it was Green who shouted longest and loudest, the 21-year-old Western Australian producing a ruthless 182no on day one at the Gabba to put his side in a strong position of 3-325 against competition leaders Queensland.
It was the third time Green has passed 150 in the competition this season – a feat not achieved by one so young since the late David Hookes went on a run spree for South Australia in the summer of 1976-77, his scores of 163, 185 and 156 propelling him into the Australian side for the Centenary Test and a subsequent slice of history.
Few batsmen in recent history can have had such an appetite for runs at such a young age as Green. Just in the past 15 days, the right-hander has, in two formats and at two levels, racked up more than 650 runs, his 201 in Premier Cricket fortnight back followed by 168no and 144 in Shield and One-Day Cup matches against South Australia before today’s 258-ball occupation.
Golden Green scores third Shield century of the summer
Coming to the crease at 2-16, he expertly negotiated a tricky early phase on a pitch that was green enough to convince Bulls captain Usman Khawaja to have a bowl.
There was a momentary lapse on 37 when he looked to flick a shorter ball from Jack Wildermuth into the on-side, only to see it pop up and fall just short of the gully fielder.
Next ball he returned to type, producing the rock-solid forward defence that has fast become one of the most reliable in the country.
A short time later he was punching Xavier Bartlett for fours through mid on and mid off, then pulling him past fine leg to reach another fifty. The milestone might have triggered a fractional drop in concentration as the very next ball he stood tall as he looked to flick a straighter one from Xavier Bartlett through midwicket. He was rapped on the pad and survived what looked a very good appeal.
If it was a life, he made the most of it, and quickly; during a frenetic period between lunch and tea, he raced from 41 to 101 in the space of 47 balls, again highlighting his seemingly growing ability to move through the gears with a minimum of fuss.
“I think it’s just the evolution of his game,” said WA coach Adam Voges. “As he plays more, as he gets more confident in his own ability, I think you’ll see that (acceleration) a little bit more.
“He would’ve taken a lot of confidence out of his one-day hundred the other day where he was able to (move through the gears quickly). But he was able to put some real pressure on the Queensland bowlers and made their margin for error really quite small.”
Green Machine: Young gun’s explodes for maiden one-day ton
By stumps, Green had passed 700 Shield runs for the first time in his burgeoning career and had cut Travis Head’s lead at the top of this season’s leaderboard to just 44.
“His technique allows him to bat for long periods, but I think his mental capacity and desire to bat, and bat for long periods is unparalleled for a 21-year-old, and that’s what makes him so good,” added Voges. “He just wants to keep batting, and he’s doing it brilliantly well at the moment.”
Perhaps most startling was the way Green’s flair matched his focus once he had gotten into stride. As well as a series of beautiful straight drives either side of the wicket from the quicks, and a couple of delightful sixes over the head of left-arm spinner Matt Kuhnemann, there were shades of Kevin Pietersen in a number of on-side strokes, where Green slapped the ball through mid on with a savage cross bat, and then stood tall and whipped elegantly through midwicket as the Englishman had done so effortlessly in his pomp.
It is no coincidence. During his time with the National Performance Squad in Brisbane a couple of years ago, then Cricket Australia high performance coach Chris Rogers had encouraged Green to watch footage of Pietersen, convinced he could heed some valuable lessons from another tall and imposing right-hander.
“There’s a few guys who are tall who I’ve looked at before (as models),” the youngster said at the time. “Chris Rogers has mentioned Kevin Pietersen as someone I should watch.
“He was pretty tall and dominated with the bat and was a huge presence out in the middle.”
Green is clearly better for the education.
Rogers, now coach of Victoria, might look at the schedule, see Western Australia on the horizon, and rue handing out such good advice.