Australian all-rounder Cameron Green won’t bowl for the remainder his side’s Test series against South Africa, with scans confirming he has broken a bone in his finger after copping a 145km/h thunderbolt at the MCG.
Green was the second player to retire hurt within an hour on Tuesday as opener David Warner was forced off with sheer exhaustion after reaching his double century in the Boxing Day Test.
Just a day after his maiden five-wicket heroics, Green replaced Warner at the crease (Warner is set to be next in on the third day) and lasted just 20 deliveries before copping one from South African Anrich Nortje late on day two.
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Blood could be seen streaming down the knuckle of Green’s right index finger as he sought medical treatment.
It was confirmed on Wednesday the 23-year-old had suffered a small fracture to his right index finger and, while he’d be able to bat again if required, would not bowl in South Africa’s second innings.
The side also confirmed Green had been ruled out of the Sydney Test and the Big Bash, where he had been slated to play for the Perth Scorchers.
That decision is intended to have Green raring to go for the tour of India, which begins in February.
“He’s got a small fracture to that index finger so bowling looks not a possibility, but he could potentially come back online for batting this morning depending on the situation and where the game’s at,” coach Andrew McDonald said on SEN.
“We’ll work our way through that.”
Aussie great Adam Gilchrist said the loss of Green would change “the complexion” of the attack, given the workload he shouldered after a finger injury to Mitch Starc.
Starc is set to miss the New Year’s Test match in Sydney due to his injury, which was suffered while attempting a catch in the MCG outfield, briefly leaving the field on day one of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa.
The left-armer was later spotted with heavy strapping on the end of his middle finger of his left hand.
Starc was cleared to continue playing the Melbourne Test on Tuesday morning, with Cricket Australia revealing his condition would be reassessed at the end of the match. He is permitted to bowl in the second innings against South Africa if required.
But Fox Cricket understands the Boxing Day Test will be his last of the summer
“He’ll play a role with both bat and ball over the course of the game,” McDonald said.
“He’ll be limited, he certainly won’t be as full as he would like but he’ll be able to do a role for us, so that’s a positive sign for us.
“There hasn’t been any talk of an operation so I think it’s more of a splint to get that right over time.”
Starc has damaged a tendon on his bowling hand, ruling him out of the third and final Test against South Africa in Sydney, which gets underway on January 4.
“He’ll play this Test in great discomfort, but it’s at least six weeks recovery,” cricket reporter Peter Lalor told SEN.
“It’s tendon damage to that middle finger, that bowling finger.”
The frustrating injury opens the door for uncapped West Australian bowler Lance Morris to potentially make his Test debut at the SCG next week.
Morris was rushed into the Australian squad ahead of the Adelaide Test against the West Indies as injury cover, serving as Starc’s like-for-like replacement.
The 24-year-old is the leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield this season with 27 scalps at 18.40 in five matches.
However, the imminent return of Josh Hazlewood, or spin conditions, could prevent Morris from receiving a coveted baggy green at the SCG.
Andrew McDonald said on Wednesday that Morris is the most likely replacement for Starc as things stand, but hinted that things could change.
“There’s clearly a role there for (Morris) if Mitchell Starc was to go down, so he may be looking like he’ll get an opportunity in Sydney depending on the balance of that attack,” McDonald said.
Hazlewood has missed three consecutive Tests due to a side strain injury, but the New South Welshman is expected to recover before the New Year’s fixture.
“If you want someone with a bit of pace and to have a look at someone new, then Lance Morris is there,” former England bowler Isa Guha said on Fox Cricket.
“He’s waiting in the squad to come in and have a bowl. He’s express pace, he’s been playing really well in the Sheffield Shield, most wickets this season. There is that option.
“I think maybe they’ll assess how to pother bowlers are feeling ahead of the Sydney Test, because experience accounts for everything, and Josh Hazlewood deserves his place back.”
George Bailey and the selection panel might also consider picking two spinners for the SCG Test, which has not happened since Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe bowled in tandem against Pakistan in January 2017.
Queensland leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson is the incumbent second spinner, having accompanied Lyon during recent tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
However, Victorian young gun Todd Murphy and white-ball superstar Adam Zampa could also be smokies for a Test debut.
Zampa has only played one first-class match in the past three years, but his impeccable performances in canary yellow since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic could be enough to convince selectors he’s ready for five-day cricket.