Within the space of just 30 deliveries on Tuesday night, Cameron Green put the same question on everyone’s lips.
Why isn’t he in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad?
Granted that one innings doesn’t make a T20 star, but there can be no denying that the 23-year-old would have a formidable case to be in the squad if it was being picked now.
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Australia named its 15-man squad on September 1 and, given the nation won the World Cup less than 12 months ago, there was understandably very little change.
The only tweak to the squad that won in 2021 was reserve spinner Mitchell Swepson making way for breakout star, Tim David.
But in blasting 61 runs off 30 balls against India in Mohali, many will be wondering if room should’ve been made for Green, too.
The right-hander had only played one T20I, and had never opened the batting in international cricket heading into the first match.
But with David Warner rested, Green was thrust into the new role — and played an innings well beyond years, setting up a big four-wicket win for Australia to open the three-match series.
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Green was the player-of-the-match with Australia chasing down 6-208 with four balls remaining. It was Australia’s second-highest successful chase in T20 cricket, and its biggest ever against India.
Teams are able to make changes to their World Cup squads without the approval of the event’s Technical Committee. Super 12 teams, which include Australia, have until October 15 to make changes.
It means that while it’s unlikely that Australia’s selectors will move heaven and earth to shoehorn Green into its World Cup plans at this advanced stage, the door is not entirely shut.
Selectors still have a few headaches to contend with as the tournament nears with some stars battling injury, and another showing some worrisome form.
Mitch Marsh has had a troubled run with injury since the 2021 World Cup and will have few chances to play before the opening match as he recovers from an ankle injury.
Marcus Stoinis is also dealing with a low level side strain that has interrupted his lead-in for the tournament.
Both are expected to be fit for the World Cup, but a lack of playing time in the 20-over game will be of some concern. Marsh was only available for one of Australia’s six ODIs against Zimbabwe and New Zealand, while Stoinis sat out the final match through injury.
Arguably a far greater concern, however, are the ongoing struggles of opener Aaron Finch.
The 35-year-old fell so far out of form in the 50-over game that he decided to give it away, returning from ODI cricket after Australia’s final match against New Zealand.
He did so having averaged just 12.42 from 14 innings in 2022.
Finch’s T20 numbers have been less alarming, although they’re still a far cry from those that made him a lock for so many years.
Since the semi finals of last year’s World Cup, Finch is averaging 24.90 in T20I cricket with a strike rate of 122.32.
His 22 runs off 13 balls against India in the first T20 was a respectable start to the series, however, it’s hard to entirely remove the 20-over cricketer from the 50-over version that struggled so greatly.
Opening the batting in T20 cricket has considerable overlap with the same role in modern day ODIs, which are increasingly being played at a similar pace.
And that’s where Green comes into the discussion.
Green has the ability to cover any of Marsh, Stoinis and — as we learnt in his opening display in Mohali — Finch as well.
It provides a potential twist in the tale that few saw coming.
Green was included in Australia’s T20 squad for Warner, although it was thought that either Matthew Wade or Josh Inglis would move to the top of the order and Green slot into the middle.
Instead, Green was a direct swap for Warner and has now added more pressure on Finch by proving his incredible versatility.
Former Australia captain Michael Clarke suggested selectors might regret not adding Green to its World Cup squad, with the 23-year-old’s most recent white ball scores being 89*, 25* and 61.
“(He) continues to get better and can bat anywhere in the order,” Clarke said on Big Sports Breakfast. “We’ve seen what he can do with the ball and in the field as well.
“I wonder if the Aussies are just questioning not having him in that World Cup squad.
“He had a pretty good one-day series as well.
“I don’t know… the advantage is someone that can bat, bowl and field in T20 cricket. I reckon he’s so important. And when you can bat anywhere in the order, he’s got a good technique, he’s got good power and he’s in good form. So interesting to see what they’re thinking.”
Former India batter Wasim Jaffer said Green was “brilliant” in the first T20, adding that the pressure is now on Finch with Marsh and Stoinis likely to return when fit, and Warner when available.
“By opening him, Finchy has probably put his spot in a spot of bother,” Jaffer said to ESPNCricinfo.
“With Warner coming back, the Australian selectors will be thinking about it. Because Marsh and Stoinis come back.
“Does Finch stay in the side? I don’t know, but Cameron Green has been brilliant.”
Meanwhile, former Australia star Brad Hodge praised Green for delivering in what was a challenging test for the all-rounder.
“That was a phenomenal performance,” he said. “This is a kid that’s not even in the T20 World Cup side.
“To come in like that and perform in a really tough environment — the wicket was good no doubt, but it’s the two best sides playing against each other with great records.
“To be able to dismantle the Indian bowling line-up like that was impressive.”
Time will tell if it’s not too late for Green to force a change in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad.
If nothing else, he has at least provided a stunning showcase of his ability to play T20 cricket in India — a trait that could well earn him millions in the Indian Premier League.