This week is supposed to be a special homecoming for Cameron Green, with the allrounder set to play his first Test match in his hometown of Perth against West Indies starting Wednesday.
Green, who debuted in Test cricket in December of 2020, has not missed any of Australia's 14 Tests since, but bizarrely not yet played at home, as Perth has not hosted a Test match since 2019.
His homecoming has been the centerpiece of the marketing and media campaign to attract some locals through the gates this week. But Green admits he's not really feeling the comforts of home. Staggeringly, he has played more first-class matches at Galle International Stadium in Sri Lanka than he has at Perth Stadium.
He has played just one Sheffield Shield match there in 2018, when he was playing as a bowler for Western Australia and batting at No. 8 behind Ashton Agar. The majority of his first-class cricket in Perth at the WACA. He has played in eight T20s at Perth Stadium, but only one since January 2020.
Instead of being a fountain of local knowledge to his teammates as the only WA-based player in the playing XI, he is trying to extract as much information as he can from his interstate-based teammates who have more experience playing there than he does.
"It definitely feels weird that you're playing a home game and not at your home," Green said. "Everyone expects you to do well and be used to the conditions but I kind of feel like maybe some of the other boys are more used to it than I am. It'll be a challenge.
"I'm asking questions of like Marnus [Labuschagne] who batted well there a few years ago about how he found it. It's a bit weird when you're asking guys what it's like in your home conditions."
Green isn't even staying in his own bed this week. He enjoyed a rare week at home in the lead-up to the Test matches after leaving Australia's ODI series against England early to be managed ahead of the Test summer. But this week he has opted to stay at the team hotel, having stayed at home for his only international match to-date in Perth, a T20I against England in October where he felt he relaxed too much in the build-up.
"For the longevity of him and his career, it's a big call for him as a youngster"
Green is quickly learning about life as a three-format player on the run, just as he learned about Test cricket on the run over the last two years.
Ahead of his first home Test summer in 2020-21 against India Green played eight first-class matches, piling up three hundreds, and bowled in four of them.
Before his second home summer in 2021-22, Green played five first-class matches for WA, making a century and three half-centuries, and took wickets in every game in preparation for the Ashes.
Prior to a five-Test home summer against West Indies and South Africa in 2022-23, Green has not played a single red-ball game. His last first-class fixture was the second Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in July. He has played six ODIs and seven T20Is since the end of August having become a permanent member of the ODI team, and a fringe member of the T20I side.
He was preparing to play Shield cricket in mid-October and was literally facing red balls in the nets when he was told he was going to join the T20 World Cup squad following the freak injury to Josh Inglis, having left them only days earlier following the T20I series against England.
Green is trying to come to terms with short lead-ins to Test matches. "That's the unfortunate nature of playing three formats," he said. "You don't really get much preparation, which I'm not too used to. I'm used to like a good month or so leading into a Test series. It's something that I'll have to get used to and I've got a lot of added respect for the guys that do it."
Unlike David Warner, Steven Smith, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood, Green doesn't have one discipline to prepare for, he has two.
Learning how to manage his time and prioritise his practice sessions is all part of his education. Green would prefer to put his time exclusively into his batting. He was the last man left out in the middle of the WACA at Australia's compulsory three-hour centre-wicket session on Monday. He was only outlasted by Smith who was still in the nets when Green pulled his pads off as he tried to get used to the rhythms of Test-match batting after three months of white-ball bashing.
"It's basically trying to learn how to leave the ball again," Green said. "I think in white-ball cricket, you're trying to hit the ball and your contact point is well in front of your eyes, basically trying and get a full swing at it. So I think it's learning to rein it back to be able to defend under your eyes. Because it feels like a different game at times."
But he also needs to work on his bowling. Three months of white-ball cricket has meant he has not got his bowling loads to the optimal level ahead of five back-to-back Test matches, although he has edged closer in the past week.
His history of stress-related back injuries remains at the forefront of Australia's minds, but his overs and his bowling skill remain vitally important to the balance of Australia's attack. He no longer has the technical counsel of Matt Mason, the former WA bowling coach who has since joined England's women's team after leaving Perth last summer. But Green continues to use his technical advice as he tries to remain fit and healthy throughout another big summer campaign.
"Matt Mason left me in a really good place," Green said. "I think he had two really simple focuses that I have towards my bowling, basically jumping straight and not trying to jump too much. Trying to keep as balanced as I can at the crease. A couple of really nice clear checkpoints to kind of check in every so often and I've had two or three good sessions with them this week."
Green will have to continue to manage himself through an unrelenting schedule over the next 12 months, which will only be exacerbated if he adds the IPL to tours of India, England and the World Cup in 2023.
Perth itself may become as foreign to him by the end of it as Perth Stadium is this week.