Australian cricket has invested heavily in Cameron Green’s potential and the young star shone brightly in the Hobart night sky on Sunday as Pat Cummins’ side sealed a 146-run victory inside three days of a dramatic fifth Ashes Test.
Green produced a devastating spell with the pink ball under lights at Blundstone Arena to trigger England’s capitulation to be all out for 124 after they had threatened to charge towards what would have been a remarkable comeback win.
English speedster Mark Wood captured career-best figures of 6-37 to roll Australia for 155, setting the tourists a challenging target of 271 on a green pitch to avoid a 4-0 final scoreline. It proved way too much as they lost their last 10 wickets for 56 runs.
The tourists initally responded to the challenge with easily their best start to an innings this summer with Rory Burns and Zak Crawley humming along to be 0-68 after 16 overs before Green made the vital breakthrough in the last over of the second session.
Burns (26) chopped Green onto his stumps before the 22-year-old West Australian repeated the dose for Dawid Malan (10).
He then produced a scorching off-swinger to find Crawley’s outside edge on 36 and suddenly England were on the back foot at 3-83.
Ben Stokes (five) went cheaply, holing out to Nathan Lyon in the deep after a pull shot off Mitchell Starc hit high on the blade and when Scott Boland snuck a low-bouncing delivery under Joe Root’s bat, England’s hopes were all but extinguished at 5-101.
Root could only offer a wry grin as he cursed his luck after hearing the death rattle reverberating from his off stump to signal the end of his innings on 11, completing a third tour of Australia without a century.
That almost went underground!
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 16, 2022
Debutant keeper Sam Billings (one) became Boland’s second victim when he chipped him to Cummins at mid-on before the skipper bowled Ollie Pope (five) around his legs as England capitulated to 7-107, losing seven wickets for just 39 runs.
Boland continued the carnage when Chris Woakes (five) snicked a slog and Alex Carey snared a brilliant one-handed catch, Wood went down swinging when he was bowled by Cummins for 11 before Ollie Robinson’s duck was the final wicket to fall in embarrassing fashion.
Former English captain Michael Vaughan, who grew up watching the legendary Sir Ian Botham and had another top-class all-rounder in his team in the form of Andrew Flintoff, was wowed by Green’s talent in turning the match around with his spell.
“He’s exceptional. He’s some bowler. We’ve seen it in the last couple of Test matches, the promise with the bat, he fields, he catches. He will dominate maybe one or two Ashes series on his own
“He’s having a big impact on this one but I think he’s got the ability and the skill levels to dominate a whole series on his own.”
Earlier he had chipped in with a valuable 23 after stroking an elegant 74 in the first innings.
The third day’s play started with the expected dismissal of nightwatcher Scott Boland for eight when he nicked a Wood bouncer but the clatter of wickets that followed was far from anticipated.
Travis Head was uncomfortable from the get-go when confronted with Wood’s pace and he gloved a short ball to keeper Sam Billings for eight to leave Australia teetering at 5-59.
The home team’s plight worsened four runs later when Steve Smith also fell to a short-pitched Wood delivery, hooking it to Malan in the deep on 27.
"I'm sitting at home looking at those pictures and if they're the pictures the third umpire is seeing, I don't think that I'd overrule that and call that a no-ball."
— 7Cricket (@7Cricket) January 16, 2022
Alex Carey got the first of his lucky breaks on 19 when he was bowled by Chris Woakes but third umpire Paul Reiffel controversially stepped in with a no-ball call, ruling the English seamer did not have any part of his boot behind the bowling crease in a line-ball decision which infuriated Sir Ian Botham in Seven commentary.
Botham said the laws of cricket require conclusive evidence for an on-field decision to be overturned and he argued there was no such footage although his former teammate Mike Atherton believed Reiffel had got it right.
Green was trapped by Stuart Broad for 23, ending his stand with Carey one short of a half-century partnership, and when Mitchell Starc (one) was another victim of Wood’s pace assault, alarm bells were ringing for the Australians at 8-121.
Carey received his second slice of fortune on 23 when he was given out LBW to Broad but a DRS challenge showed the ball pitched outside leg stump by millimetres to give him another reprieve as he and Cummins took the hosts to the long break ay 8-141.
One short of what would have been his second Test half-century, Carey’s charmed run was curtailed by Broad before Wood bowled Cummins for 13 to register career-best figures.
Among the wide variety of selection stuff-ups England have made this summer, resting Wood for the live second Test in Adelaide has to be the worst of many.