Then, in behind a nightwatchman at No.9 stepped a 20-year-old with floppy blonde hair and ambitions to match his two-metre frame.
Cameron Green had already made a big impression on the first-class cricket scene before then, taking 5-24 on debut as a 17-year-old against Tasmania nearly three years earlier. He’d also shown what he could do with the bat, notably putting James Pattinson on the hill at the WACA more than once one day, but to that point he was seen by his state primarily as a bowler.
That all changed that afternoon in Brisbane as Green batted for more than four hours with the tail, scoring 121 not out, his first Shield century, to save a game that looked lost.
A little more than a year later, with four more first-class tons to his name including one against the travelling Indians last week, he is due to make his Test debut for Australia at Adelaide Oval on Thursday as an all-rounder, but one picked more for his batting than his bowling.
A star in the making for some time, it was that day in Brisbane he marked himself as a future Test batsman.
“That performance at the Gabba, that’s where it started really,” said WA coach and former Test batsman Adam Voges.
I walked out of the net 15 minutes later, straight over to ‘JL’ and said ‘we’re playing the kid’
“For him to be able to withstand a very strong Queensland attack for the whole day basically and to walk off 120 odd not out and save the game for us, it just showed maturity beyond his years.
“I think we always knew there was the talent there … but to show the mental fortitude to be able to do that under real pressure, that was certainly an arrival for him.”
While Voges watched from the team balcony Green’s club coach at Subiaco-Floreat, Wayne Clark, took in proceedings from a small broadcast booth in the stands. Clark, who played 10 Tests for Australia during the World Series Cricket years, calls WA games for radio.
He had been a state selector until shortly before Green’s first call-up for WA so had heard all the hype, but this was something else.
“It was a coming of age sort of game,” Clark said. “He played all the shots. They tried everything with him and he just stood firm. For a young kid like that it was just an extraordinary innings.”
The match was significant for Green for another reason. He also suffered a stress fracture of the back for the second time – he had sat out the entire 2017-18 Shield season the first time – meaning he would be unable to bowl indefinitely.
Voges was not short of batting options with Shaun and Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Josh Philippe, D’Arcy Short, Hilton Cartwright, Cameron Bancroft, Sam Whiteman and Ashton Turner in his squad. But he knew had to keep Green simply to bat.
“We knew he wasn’t going to be able to bowl for the rest of the season but after that performance we couldn’t leave him out,” Voges said.
“The guy who was primarily picked as a bowling all-rounder at No.8 played the rest of the season batting at six for us and scored two more hundreds and was our second leading run-scorer for the season.
“It’s amazing how that transition came about and it was almost natural when we weren’t going to have Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis at the start of this summer to keep elevating him and get him up to that No.4 position.”
So long as there is not a late setback in his recovery from a ball that hit him in the head in his follow-through last Friday, Green will be introduced to the Test arena by the same coach, Justin Langer, who gave him his first state start three years ago.
Voges recalls the first occasion well, having been WA captain when the team flew to Hobart to take on Tasmania in February 2017.
“I hadn’t faced much of him to be honest and one of the first times I faced him was in the nets before the game,” he said. “There was no guarantee he was going to play that game. I’d obviously heard a lot about him but I wanted to face him.
“I walked out of the net 15 minutes later, straight over to ‘JL’ and said ‘we’re playing the kid’.”
Tim Paine wasn’t in the Tasmania side that Green ripped through with the ball in that match. He was so far out of the picture in Hobart, in fact, that he was considering retirement and a career with ball manufacturer Kookaburra before his stunning Test recall later that year.
But the Australia captain has seen Green from close quarters, including from behind the stumps as he struck an unbeaten 158 at Bellerive Oval in February, and is an unabashed fan.
“He’s really impressive for a guy his age,” Paine said. “He understands his game really well, has a really smart cricket brain for such a young guy and is really calm and cool under pressure.
“From what I’ve seen of him playing against him and the last couple of weeks being around him he’s made for Test cricket and we can’t wait to see him get out there tomorrow and unleash him.”
Chris Barrett is Chief Sports Reporter of The Sydney Morning Herald.