Cameron Green at centre of brutal setback ahead of first India Test

Australia's Test cricket coach admits the star allrounder is in a race against the clock to be fit for the start of the India tour.

Seen here, medical staff attend to Cam Green's broken finger suffered in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa.
Cam Green is still unable to bowl properly after suffering a broken finger during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa at the MCG. Pic: Getty

Australia's Test cricket coach Andrew McDonald admits star allrounder Cameron Green is in a race against the clock to be fit for the start of the Test tour of India. The majority of the Aussie squad fly out to India on Tuesday, with the first of the four-match series getting underway in Nagpur on February 9.

Green battled on bravely in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa after breaking a finger one day after his maiden five-wicket haul in Test cricket. The incredible display underlined his growing status and rapid improvement with the ball in the longer format of the sport.

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While the towering West Australian defied the pain by facing 157 balls and reaching 51 not out before Australia declared their innings, he took no part with the ball in the second innings and was omitted from the Aussie side's next match - the New Year's Test in Sydney. The 23-year-old has been involved in Australia's training camp in Sydney, but with the first Test against India little more than one week away, serious question marks remain over whether his finger will have recovered in time.

McDonald said Green could be played as a batter only if he was still unable to bowl. However, the more likely scenario is that Australia will use another specialist batter like Matt Renshaw or Peter Handscomb - both who have red-ball experience in India - to bat at No.6.

"Where he's (Green) positioned at the moment, his biggest challenge is bowling," McDonald said about his star allrounder. "There is a lack of loading there, and one of the key reasons around us getting into this camp early is to make sure that we're ready to go for the rigours of what the bowling unit (is) going to encompass.

"Building confidence is the main thing, setting him up to succeed if he was to play in that first Test match, having enough time, that will be the critical question. We value his batting first and foremost really. He's a batter in our top six and we value that. His bowling is a very nice bonus."

Seen here, Cameron Green raises his bat after scoring a half century against South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Cameron Green scored a half century against South Africa at the Melbourne Cricket Ground despite batting with a broken finger. Pic: Getty

Aussie Test squad facing injury and fatigue issues

If Green does not recover in time for the first match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series it would represent a double-blow for Australia's bowling attack, with paceman Mitchell Starc already ruled out of the first Test because of his own finger injury suffered at the MCG.

The tall left-armer will not leave with the rest of the squad when they depart Australia this week but is making solid progress in his recovery. McDonald says he's hopeful Starc will be available for the second Test in Delhi, starting on February 17.

"It's probably frustrating for Mitch that he feels that good," McDonald said. "But the good thing is when he does get out of the splint all his workloads are going to be up to speed and it will be pretty much into that second Test, which is good news to us."

McDonald was also mindful of the impact that Australia's packed summer schedule of cricket has had on some of his players, particularly David Warner, who admitted that he was "exhausted" ahead of the India tour. Like Test teammate Usman Khawaja, the Aussie opener admitted he would have preferred to spend more time at home with his family, rather than attending the Allan Border Medal on the Monday night before the squad flies to India.

Warner has had a particularly packed schedule of cricket that began in August, where he played in the white-ball series against Zimbabwe, then New Zealand, England and the West Indies, before featuring in every game of Australia's underwhelming T20 World Cup campaign. He also played in each Test match of the home series against the West Indies and South Africa, and then managed six BBL games on his return to the tournament.

David Warner admits he'd rather spend more time with his family than have to attend Monday's Allan Border Medal awards night. Pic: Getty/Instagram
David Warner admits he'd rather spend more time with his family than have to attend Monday's Allan Border Medal awards night. Pic: Getty/Instagram

"It's been challenging," Warner told reporters of his hectic summer of cricket. "I'm quite tired, exhausted."

McDonald admitted that managing the workload on his players would be a key factor heading into the series against the No.2-ranked Test side in the world. The Aussie coach said Warner's summer has been exhausting both physically and mentally, with the opener also having to deal with the controversy around his Cricket Australia leadership ban and the effect the saga has had on his family.

"It's been a long Test summer," McDonald admitted. "He's (Warner) had some off-field issues that's played out and taken some strain, some mental energy away from him.

"He's put some time into the Big Bash, and I think he's done a fantastic job. Our challenge will be to manage him into that first Test match, no different to any other series where you'll have players come in at different stages in terms of fatigue."

with AAP

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