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Ashes bolter: Scott Boland strengthens his case for Australia call-up

The pace bowler now has 15 wickets in two Sheffield Shield matches this season

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Scott Boland produced a match-winning performance, Victoria vs New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, MCG, November 8, 2021

Scott Boland was part of the squad for the postponed South Africa tour  •  Getty Images

Last week, Victoria coach Chris Rogers said he wouldn't swap Scott Boland "for just about anyone". After a match-winning display against New South Wales at the MCG, the caveat is perhaps not needed.
In the early-season discussions about who could join the big three in Australia's Test squad for the Ashes, there have been the usual suspects: Michael Neser, Sean Abbott and Jhye Richardson. Mark Steketee, who was part of the squad for the postponed South Africa tour, also pushed his name up there with a seven-wicket haul against South Australia.
There wasn't really much talk around Boland although he has been a hugely consistent performer for Victoria. In two matches this summer, however, that has changed. At the very least he now deserves a place in the expanded party that will form an Australia A side ahead of the first Test. The closest he has so far been to a Test cap was when he was added to a squad against West Indies in 2014-15.
Following his five-wicket haul on the final day he was reluctant to talk himself up too much. "It would be very nice to be recognised like that…all I can do is control what I'm doing," he said. "You'd have to ask [national selector] George [Bailey], but think I'd be there or thereabouts but it's not up to me."
Boland's eight wickets at the MCG followed seven at the Drummoyne Oval to give him 15 at 10.80 this season. Since the start of last summer he has 45 at 19.60. Boland is 32, and had earned the last of his 17 limited-overs caps in 2016 which is perhaps a reason why his name hasn't been as prominent in the debate until now. But as Rogers put it, "he's the finished article".
One of the hallmarks of his recent performances has been his ability to take wickets on flat surfaces or with an older ball. Last season he toiled magnificently on flat Adelaide wickets, and in the early stages this summer was a constant threat on a Drummoyne Oval surface that had less life for the quicks the longer the game went on.
In this latest match at the MCG, although there was always more on offer for the quicks in what was an excellent pitch, his delivery with a 62-over old ball to remove Jack Edwards and break a lengthy stand was another example.
There was some symmetry in the fact that it has been the international retirement of James Pattinson, the man he took the new ball alongside at the MCG, that has shaken up Australia's reserve pack of quicks ahead of the Ashes.
"I know there's so many good fast bowlers around it's going to be hard for me to get a crack but all I can do is keeping doing what I've been doing for the last few years and if the opportunity comes I'll be really happy," Boland said earlier in the game.
His captain Peter Handscomb was more than willing to push his claims. "I'm happy to talk about Scotty for as long as you want," he said. "He's been doing this for five, sixers years, it's nothing new. It's incredible bowling, his figures speak for themselves. He comes out here today, breaks the game open and wins it for us in the last hour.
"I'd love to see him have a crack at that next level. He's been ready for a couple of years so if that moment does come for him I'm sure he'll grab it with both hands and show what Australia what he's been doing for us for a long time."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo