Vodafone Men's Ashes
Boland to debut in Ashes selection shock
Victorian to become first Indigenous man to pull on Baggy Green since Jason Gillespie, with captain Pat Cummins also returning to the side in place of Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser
25 December 2021, 09:30 AM AEST
Australia have dropped a Christmas Day bombshell after confirming Scott Boland will make a dream home Test debut and be given the chance to bowl Australia to Ashes glory at the MCG.
Returning captain Pat Cummins announced today that Boland will become just the fourth Indigenous person to pull on the Baggy Green, with that pair coming into the Australian team in place of Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser.
Josh Hazlewood remains unavailable due to a side injury while Richardson pulled up sore after sending down 38 overs in Adelaide, where he completed his maiden Test five-wicket haul on the final day to secure a 275-run win and set the series ledger at 2-0.
Australia XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
Boland, of the Gulidjan tribe in the Colac area of Victoria, joins Faith Thomas, Jason Gillespie and Ashleigh Gardner as players of Indigenous descent to feature at Test level.
Player-of-the-match in the only Marsh Sheffield Shield game held at the MCG so far this season, Boland would be awarded the Jonny Mullagh Medal (named for the star Aboriginal allrounder from Australia's historic 1868 tour of England) if he was to earn that honour again in his maiden Test.
Richardson proved a handful in his first Test in nearly three years but Australia elected to put him on ice as he manages a minor leg injury.
"He was pretty sore," Cummins told reporters on Saturday. "We were umming and ahhing – he had a bowl yesterday but we thought seven days off (before the fourth Test in Sydney) will give him enough rest.
"He's got a small leg injury which is nothing major but we thought rather than risking a long-term injury, we'd give him a week off."
Boland, who played the last of his 17 international limited-overs matches in 2016, has an enviable record at the MCG which, until recent seasons, had a reputation for being a bowlers' graveyard.
The 32-year-old's record of 91 wickets at 25.71 in 26 first-class games at the 'G is impressive given most of his matches there have been on docile, unresponsive surfaces.
Cummins suggested those numbers were a "huge part" of Boland's selection.
"We earmarked him as a chance for here and the SCG in particular, we think his record is really well suited," said Cummins.
"His record speaks for itself here in domestic cricket. Home ground, having someone fresh like him who can perform straightaway were the big factors.
"He's really excited obviously – it's a dream for him to wear the Baggy Green, packed MCG on Boxing Day, it doesn't get any better."
Boland is also regarded as having an advantage against left-handers due to his ability to seam the ball away from southpaws.
The right-armer becomes the second debutant to be blooded in as many Tests after Neser was handed his cap in Adelaide, and the sixth fast bowler to feature for Australia in the Ashes so far.
That marks a departure from their reliance on their main three pace bowlers – Cummins, Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc – and spinner Nathan Lyon last home summer, and is more in line with the rotation strategy they pursued on their 2019 Ashes tour.
"We knew, even with James Pattinson retiring (before the Test summer started), that we had six or seven guys who could step in and do a really good job," said Cummins.
"Although 'Ness' (Neser) debuted last game, Jhye was in after a few years, Scotty's debuting this game, we felt really confident with how much domestic cricket they've played and how they've performed that they could come in here and be Test-ready straightaway.
"There was a bit of that worry (over inexperience) going into Adelaide but we saw how well Jhye and Ness bowled and gelled, and how well Starcy led the attack, so I think any of those worries are past us."
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: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, Blundstone Arena