Men's Ashes 2021-22
Boland's blitz seals Ashes before lunch on day three
Scott Boland took 6-7 and Australia retained the Ashes as England crumbled to be all out for 68 before lunch on the third day
28 December 2021, 11:30 PM AEST
Australia have retained the Ashes in barely a week's worth of Test cricket after debutant quick Scott Boland produced the most remarkable debut spell witnessed at the MCG to destroy England for 68.
The carnage carried Australia to victory by an innings and 14 runs despite having posted just 267 in their one turn at batting and lands them an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match Vodafone Series with games to play in Sydney and Hobart.
Boland finished his long-hoped-for entry to Test cricket with the extraordinary second innings figures of 6-7 from four overs to deservedly (and symbolically) claim the Johnny Mullagh Medal as player of the match.
It was the best debut bowling at the MCG since Test cricket was born there in 1877, and represented a triumph for the 32-year-old who on Boxing Day became just the second man of Indigenous descent to represent Australia at Test level after former fast bowler Jason Gillespie.
England had arrived at the ground today, after both teams received negative PCR tests overnight in response to the COVID scare that had engulfed the tourists' camp yesterday, knowing they had a struggle on their hands to challenge Australia's hold on the Ashes.
But nobody could have foreseen the abject capitulation under bright morning sunshine in which Joe Root's team surrendered their final six wickets for 22 runs in less than 11 overs.
The tale of woe, which began when Mitchell Starc rattled Ben Stokes's stumps in the day's fifth over, saw nobody in England's lower order post a score above five as the game and series were wrapped up in just over an hour's play.
Following the welcome negative news dispensed overnight, Root and Stokes began the long haul back into the series with decidedly positive intent.
Root sent the fifth ball of the morning to the long-off boundary with a classical off-drive, and Stokes followed his skipper's lead in Starc's next two overs with a couple of duplicate drives that also yielded boundaries.
But as has been the theme since day one of the Ashes in Brisbane, no sooner had England dragged themselves to their feet than they were sent back to the canvas.
Two balls after Stokes smoked him dismissively down the ground, Starc angled a delivery into the left-hander that found its way between pad and blade and smashed into the leg bail.
It was precisely the same result as Dawid Malan would have suffered first ball he faced on Monday evening had the England number three not got his leg in the way, and provided graphic evidence to counter the conspiracy theorists who claimed Malan had been stiffed.
It didn't prevent them singing the same tune when Jonny Bairstow was adjudged lbw from the fifth ball of Boland's opening over of the day, with umpire Paul Wilson determining the ball that jagged off the pitch and crashed into Bairstow's back leg would also have hit off stump.
Bairstow seemed convinced he'd been struck outside the line of the stumps, but given he'd been lucky not to be caught at gully off Cameron Green and then dropped in the same position by the same player off Boland's first delivery of the day, it should have been blessed relief to be on his way.
If England were to make Australia bat a second time, let alone a fist of their lamentable Ashes sojourn, it was inevitably up to their skipper to see them past that point of ignominy.
But Root became the next to fall under Boland's spell, pushing hard at a delivery that decked away and into the hands of David Warner at slip who went into full muscleman mode as he celebrated the inevitability of Australia's victory.
It was the sixth time in as many innings of this series that Root nicked off to catches behind the wicket, and even though he finishes 2021 with a new calendar year Test runs benchmark for his country – 1708 at an average of 61 – he is yet to master batting in Australia.
From there, what had become a procession transcended into pure pantomime.
Mark Wood bunted a return catch to Boland to complete the debutant's five-for which equalled Stuart Broad's famed Trent Bridge spell as the fastest five-wicket haul (19 balls) in Test history.
At that stage Boland had 5-5, which became 6-5 two balls later when Ollie Robinson nicked to third slip.
It was only Green's intervention, pegging back last man Jimmy Anderson's off stump, that prevented Boland returning the best Test debut bowling figures for Australia since Jason Krejza claimed 8-215 in vastly different circumstances against India in Nagpur in 2009.
Vodafone Men's Ashes
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
First Test: Australia won by nine wickets
Second Test: Australia won by 275 runs
Third Test: Australia won by an innings and 14 runs
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Blundstone Arena