The first pictures of the Adelaide Oval wicket have emerged as the head curator dropped a hint about what the batters and bowlers should expect.
Meanwhile, cricket fans have been given a major clue as to who will be David Warner’s replacement at first slip.
Get all the latest ahead of the Australia-West Indies first Test in Test Daily!
Watch Australia v West Indies on Kayo Sports. Every Test, ODI and T20I Live with no ad breaks during play. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial Today >
PITCH CURATOR PROMISES PACE AND BOUNCE IN ADELAIDE
Adelaide Oval head curator Damian Hough has promised a fast and bouncy pitch for the first Test between Australia and the West Indies.
Since 1998, the Adelaide Test has taken place in either November or December with one exception and has also been a day-night Test since 2015.
However, the Gabba in Brisbane will play host to the summer’s pink ball Test.
Yet Hough believes there is “no difference” in how the wicket would form in mid-January as opposed to the regular slot in the cricket calendar.
“From the curators’ side of things, you get the real baking.
“So the baking of the pitch should get it really rock hard which hopefully equates to better pace in the pitch than you would get in a November Test match.”
If Hough’s claim comes to fruition, it will be music to the ears of the West Indies’ resident speedster Shamar Joseph, who caught the eye with his rapid deliveries in the warm-up fixture against the Cricket Australia XI.
JULIAN ‘SURPRISED’ AS NEXT BIG AUSSIE QUESTION ANSWERED
Returning all-rounder Cameron Green could be a more appropriate first slip replacement for David Warner than Usman Khawaja, according to former Australian Test quick Brendon Julian.
Not only have the Aussies had to settle a new opening partner for Khawaja (Steve Smith) ahead of Wednesday’s first Test against the West Indies, they’ve also got to replace Warner in the slips cordon.
And Khawaja seems like the man.
The veteran opener, who has been at third slip in recent Tests for Australia, on Monday was seen standing at first slip during a training catching practice. Steve Smith was next to him at second slip, with Mitch Marsh moving into third and Green in his usual gully spot.
But speaking on Fox Cricket’s The Follow On podcast, Julian suggested Green – a gun catcher in the gully – might be a better option than Khawaja at first.
“Usman Khawaja, look I think Dave Warner is a better gripper than Usman Khawaja. I’m surprised that he’s gone in there at first slip,” Julian told The Follow On.
“You could even put Cam Green in there, he’s got great hands.
“Usman’s gone: ‘You know what? I’m happy to go in there.’ But that’s going to be a tough decision for him. I don’t think he’s a natural first slipper, so he’ll have to do a lot of work on that.”
Australian captain Pat Cummins will face the media in Adelaide on Tuesday.
‘FELT RUSHED’: GREEN OPENS UP ON NEW TEST SPOT… AND HOW HE FOUND OUT
Cameron Green is excited about his elevation in the Test batting order declaring he sometimes “felt rushed” at No.6 and is looking forward to having more time as his new spot batting at No.4 against the West Indies.
A full reshuffle, with Steve Smith putting his hand up to replace retired David Warner as Usman Khawaja’s new opening partner, has resulted in Green being slotted in his new position, one where he has averaged more than 60 batting for Western Australia.
Green said he’s not feeling any pressure ahead of his return to the side for the first time since last year’s Ashes, while also confirming he’ll continue to bowl despite being moved up the order.
The make-up of Australia’s top order was the biggest talking point this summer once it was confirmed Warner would retire from Test cricket after the Pakistan series, and there’s been plenty of fallout since selectors announced that Smith would open to allow Green to slot back into the team.
The 24-year-old has long been touted as a future star of international cricket but averaged a mediocre 33.59 in his first 24 Tests before he was dropped ahead of the final match of last year’s Ashes tour.
Mitch Marsh has done a tremendous job in the role since then, which has made it impossible for Green to win back his spot, with the young gun also dropped during last year’s World Cup.
But he’s set to relish this new opportunity batting higher up in the order where he’s enjoyed plenty of success for Western Australia.
“I think what I like is I’ve got a bit of time,” Green said on Monday ahead of the first Test against the West Indies in Adelaide.
“I’ve always felt maybe a touch rushed at six, especially after Heady (Travis Head) makes it look a bit too easy at number five.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve maybe had to push the game along where I feel like number four is my natural game where I can take my time and settle in.
“I had no idea (that I would bat 4) until about Wednesday. (I was) excited when I heard the news. But I thought it was about 95 per cent chance of opening so that’s where my head went for a couple of weeks. “
Smith has long been the anchor of Australia’s batting coming in at the fall of the second wicket, but Green isn’t nervous about replacing him in the role despite only finding out recently exactly where he would slot into the team.
“They (the selectors) didn’t say anything,” he explained.
“It was just biding my time and thought I might as well get my skills up just in case and so yeah, they just let me know ‘just prepare like you would and wait and see.
“I don’t feel any pressure. Obviously, replacing someone like Steve is pretty tough. But yeah, I’m just going to play my own way and, but obviously I’m grateful for him putting (me batting at four) in his mind.”
Green can take confidence from the fact that selectors clearly believe in his talent, but he does have to repay the faith after failing to reach 50 in eight innings during the Ashes which is why plenty of other in-form batters were considered for the role.
“I feel like there’s a lot of seriously good talented cricketers that are unfortunately missing out. I think that’s the beauty of where Australian cricket is at the moment,” he said.
“Renners (Matt Renshaw), Harry (Marcus Harris) and Bangers (Cameron Bancroft) are playing some awesome cricket. But then you’re also missing out four or five other cricketers that could make the team as well.
“Good competition, that’s what makes a good team. (But) no extra pressure. I definitely don’t feel it from within the group. So yeah, I’ll just go out and play my natural game.”
While Green’s role with the bat has slightly changed, he still expects to play a big part with the ball this series as he looks to add to his 30 Test scalps.
“Definitely still an all-rounder,” he said.
“I’ve been doing it for WA for a few years, bowling my full quota as well as batting at four so got no issue keeping the same load up.”
WARNER LAUDS ‘SELFLESS’ SMITH CALL
While Smith was obviously keen to make the move to the top of the order if his public comments on the matter are anything to go by, the man he replaced believes it was still a “selfless” call from the 34-year-old.
Speaking during the Melbourne Stars’ BBL clash against the Hobart Hurricanes, David Warner said Smith’s decision to partner Usman Khawaja would put the Australian Test team in a strong position – both in the short-term and with an eye to the future.
Specifically, he touched on how the move would relieve the pressure on Green, who instead will be able to re-establish his position in the Test team in his preferred spot at No.4.
“It’s time for him to cement his spot and make that his spot in the team for a long time,” Warner said of Green on Fox Cricket.
“It’s selfless of Steve to give up the position. I know he wanted to go up to the top but it’s opening a gate for a young Cameron Green to gain that position and gain that experience because it is a big shoe and big void to fill with Steve moving up the order.
“Having Marnus and then Cameron Green there in those positions holds the Australian Test team in good stead moving forward.”