Cameron Green has revealed the strategy that has allowed him to spend more time in the middle than any other batter during this Marsh Sheffield Shield campaign, and it puts him in direct contrast to two of Australia’s most prolific batsmen of recent times.
Green, who has catapulted to the top of the Shield run-scoring charts after scores of 168no and 251 in his two most recent matches, said time away from the nets was his way of staying fresh and recharging throughout what has been the biggest summer of his burgeoning career.
It was a lesson he says he learned during the battle for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy through December and January, which proved an intense maiden foray into Test cricket for the 21-year-old.
“Probably the biggest thing I learnt was trying to get the mental side of things right,” Green told cricket.com.au at the Gabba.
“It’s a big summer and we’ve all hit thousands and thousands of balls throughout our junior and senior careers, so you don’t need to be spending a lot of time in the nets – you just need to get your mental state right.
“For me at times, it’s basically hitting no balls, and just trying to freshen yourself up for a game of cricket. I think at times you can get caught up in trying to hit a lot of balls to make yourself feel good, when it doesn’t really matter until you get out in the middle.”
Full highlights of Green’s career-best 251
The method is paying off.
Green has faced 1,444 balls in the Shield this summer (more than 200 clear of next-best, Travis Head) at a remarkable rate of 160 per innings, with the right-hander also becoming the first 21-year-old to post three 150-plus scores in the same season since David Hookes managed the feat in 1976-77.
Of course, Green’s is a training tactic that goes against the famously driven net-batting pair of Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, his new Test teammates.
Yet the Western Australian is unfazed by the contrasting habits.
“They take a different approach,” he said. “They’re crazy – they love cricket more than I’ve seen from anyone else. So they probably do it for the love of the game, whereas I try and relax and freshen myself up.”
Perhaps most impressive has been Green’s ability to change gears to suit any given situation.
At the Gabba, he accelerated through the middle session of day one before tapering back towards stumps, while last week he hit a sparkling 144 from just 101 balls in a 50-over match for WA.
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In just his third Test, he also surged towards a declaration with four sixes to highlight another facet of his ever-improving game.
“I think it’s always been there,” Green said of his hitting prowess. “All kids, their last six balls before they get out of the net, they try to hit for six.
“I haven’t practiced it really, there’s just been some game situations where I’ve had the license to go a little bit. And fortunately, it’s coming off at the moment.”
Then there is the matter of his bowling, which has played second fiddle this summer as he manages his loads following multiple back stress fractures and becomes accustomed to a remodelled action.
At the Gabba on Sunday, he got through four overs, taking 0-11, though the fatigue of a 343-ball innings was beginning to take its toll.
“I’m slowly getting back – I’m pretty cooked at the moment, I just spent quite some time in the middle,” he added. “So it’s about not trying too hard.”