MELBOURNE: All-rounder Cameron Green may be spared white ball duties for Australia to focus on his red ball game ahead of the Test series against India in the next home summer, coach Andrew McDonald said.

Green played Sheffield Shield cricket with Western Australia in the run-up to the ongoing New Zealand Test series and said the red ball preparation had helped set him up for his match-winning 174 not out in the Wellington opener.

McDonald said Green may be given a similar lead-in to the five-test series against India and be rested from scheduled ODIs and T20Is against Pakistan that start the home summer.

“I’d like to probably err on the side of preparing him through red ball. We know how good a white-ball player he is so you put a priority on what it looks like next summer,” McDonald told reporters.

“The white-ball cricket’s important, but that test summer’s important, so I think with the results he’s had [at Wellington] he’ll probably come to us and say, ‘Can you give us a couple of Shield games before the first Test against India?’”

Australia beat the Black Caps by 172 runs at the Basin Reserve, the margin of victory almost matching Green’s first-innings knock, which was the second hundred of his Test career.

Green followed up his century with a vital 34 as Australia were skittled for 164 in their second innings.

Wellington cemented Green’s ownership of the number four slot long held by one of the nation’s greatest batters in Steve Smith, who now opens the batting with Usman Khawaja following the retirement of David Warner from the format.

Green’s stocks have risen as team-mate Marnus Labus­chagne’s have plummeted, the number three’s struggles laid bare in Wellington where he managed a total of three runs.

Once scoring centuries for fun, Labuschagne has not surpassed 10 runs in his past six Test innings.

Ahead of the second and final New Zealand Test starting in Christchurch on Friday, McDonald said there was no great concern with Labus­chagne’s form so long as his team mates were pulling the weight.

“We want the top six, seven batters to be performing as a collective,” he said. “Can he perform better? No doubt about that. Does he know that? He knows that.

“Over time there’s going to be ebbs and flows in your career.”

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2024

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