Green's red-ball rhythm proves he is the real deal

Malcolm: Green century a vindication of his move to No. 4 (1:59)

Alex Malcolm, on site in Wellington, says the allrounder looked in good rhythm battling tough conditions (1:59)

While three of Australia's top six were preparing for Australia's T20I series in Wellington last week, in between golf rounds at nearby Royal Wellington and Paraparaumu Beach, Cameron Green was peeling off an unbeaten Sheffield Shield century for Western Australia in Hobart.

Just 10 days later, in similar climes to Hobart, at a similar ground to Bellerive, Green peeled off another to hold Australia's increasingly fragile Test batting line-up together with the finest Test knock of his career and prove beyond any doubt that he is the real deal at international level.

While the likes of Steven Smith, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh had come and gone having had just three days to adjust from T20I batting to the Test-match challenge, and Marnus Labuschagne continued his lean run, Green dug in to continue to red-ball rhythm he had found in Hobart.

It was a win for the selectors. They had resisted the urge to add Green to the T20I squad, even when both Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Hardie were ruled out, insisting that they wanted to keep him focussed on red-ball cricket knowing that he could find his T20 touch at the IPL.

It was a win for Green too, who had become a target for an unhappy section of Australian fans who did not think he was worthy of being promoted to the coveted No. 4 position, while one of Test cricket's best-ever No.4s in Smith was exposed to the new ball.

Green spoke of the value of that Shield game after the day's play.

"I think it's really important," Green said. "I probably struggled to have the red ball practice leading into Tests [recently].

"I think it's been always one or two net sessions then thrown in the deep end a little bit. But that's what international cricket is like at the moment. Unfortunately, it's been a pretty busy 18 months and there's not much practice in between changing formats. It's just a bit of a work in progress for myself. I'm trying to obviously learn off guys that do it quite regularly like Steve and Mitch Marsh, Dave Warner. I think they stay true to their technique. And it's something that I need to work on. I'm not trying to be changing so much in between formats."

He did need some luck. There were plenty of plays and misses on a surface that produced swing, seam and excessive bounce after New Zealand inserted Australia under overcast skies.

But there was plenty of quality too. Fabulous, brave drives down the ground. Powerful pull shots. A muscled slap past deep cover to get to 99 with nine men on the fence in the last over of the day. And then a deft late cut to bring up his century. The emotion poured out of him just as it did when he scored his first Test century in Ahmedabad last year.

Green, 24, has put so much pressure on himself to perform at Test level. The weight of expectation from the Australian cricketing public is nothing compared to the burden he carries in his own mind about scoring centuries for his country. It should be joyous for a player to reach such a milestone, but the first words Green used to describe his century in the aftermath were revealing.

"Equally as relieving as my first one," Green said.

Australia were relieved that he pulled them out of a jam.

Green did not have to bat at all in the opening session after Smith, Usman Khawaja and Labuschagne had ground their way to 62 for 1 in 27 overs, with Smith the only one to fall to an excellent delivery from Matt Henry.

But you could make a case that batting got a little more difficult after lunch when the sun peaked through the clouds and the pitch hardened up. Smith and Khawaja had played pretty comfortably earlier in the day when there was moisture in the surface and the bounce was true and a fraction slow.

Green noted after play that some divots had hardened in the surface and made batting tricky. He copped a ball on the elbow that reared back at him from wide of off stump from Will O'Rourke.

But he rode the waves. He absorbed pressure and was aided by Marsh's counter-attacking 40 after Australia had slumped to 89 for 4. Henry prised out the patient Khawaja with a cracking late inswinger through the gate.

The form of Labuschagne remains an ongoing concern. He nicked off for a torturous 27-ball 1. The manner of the dismissal was more concerning than the score. He was caught on the crease, squared up again to a Scott Kuggeleijn outswinger that angled in and straightened. In isolation, it was a good delivery that could be written off as such. But it is the 10th time he has nicked to the cordon in his last 23 Test innings, and while no dismissal is ever the same, all 10 bear alarming similarities.

Head too looks a shadow of the player who smashed a stunning century in Adelaide three Tests ago. He has since been dismissed three times in eight balls across three Test innings for one run. In between times, he has played some bizarre and erratic white-ball knocks while also needing a rest.

It only serves to further highlight the importance of the decision to keep Green in red-ball mode. While the minds of his team-mates raced, he was calm throughout. He deliberately held up the bowler several times during the day to ensure he was not hurried through his mental process, and it paid dividends.

"I think that's probably the beauty of getting another red-ball game," Green said. "You got a really good chance to lock into your own bubble and would be able to basically practice switching on and switching off in between deliveries and going through your methods."

Green was quick to note that this century did not guarantee his position at No. 4 was safe for the long term. But it does underline why he has been rated so highly. His record under pressure and in tricky batting conditions is also better than he is given credit for with this innings sitting alongside the vital 77 he scored on a raging turner in Galle and his 74 on a green monster in Hobart against England.

It hasn't always been easy being Cameron Green. But he lived up to the expectation at the Basin.