Scott Boland retains spot with Josh Hazlewood not ready to return

Usman Khawaja replaces Travis Head as the one change for Australia at the SCG

Scott Boland claimed six wickets in 21 balls to humiliate England, Australia vs England, 3rd Test, Melbourne, December 28, 2021

Scott Boland claimed six wickets in 21 balls to humiliate England  •  Getty Images

Scott Boland has retained his place in the Australia side for the fourth Test at the SCG after it was decided against risking either Josh Hazlewood or Jhye Richardson.
Hazlewood, who misses out on his home ground, has not quite recovered from the side strain he picked up at the Gabba and will now target a comeback in the final Test in Hobart.
Australia are also continuing to manage Richardson who reported some leg soreness after the Adelaide Test which kept him out of Melbourne.
"Joshy had a few bowls and Jhye a bit similar, just not quite up to 100%," Pat Cummins said. "We gave Joshy every chance we could, just felt like he couldn't quite bowl at full tilt yesterday."
Cummins confirmed Hazlewood would have played if fit but any difficult conversation with Boland has been delayed by at least a week after his stunning 6 for 7 secured the Ashes at the MCG.
"It would have been a shame to see Scotty not to play this week after his efforts last week so it's unfortunate for Josh, I feel for him, but really glad he gets another crack at it," Cummins said. "I doubt it will be 6 for 7 but I did say nothing more than last week, don't try any harder."
On a surface that Cummins did not believe would offer much help for the quicks, despite a decent covering of grass that may provide some early assistance, Boland's skillset could be important.
"There's not a lot of swing, not a lot of bounce, you need that bulldozer bowler who will give you 50 overs if you need it of economical, challenging fast bowling that will challenge the knee roll of the batter," Cummins said. "That suits him to a tee."
It is the first time in the series that Australia have named an unchanged attack from one match to the next having cycled through six fast bowlers in the first three games due to Covid and injury issues. Michael Neser has not been able to earn a second cap after his debut in Adelaide.
The only change for Australia is Usman Khawaja replacing Travis Head who was ruled out of the match after testing positive for Covid-19. It will be Khawaja's first Test since he was dropped midway through the 2019 Ashes, but it is likely to be one-off comeback with Head set to return for the final Test.
Cummins also said there was never a realistic chance of legspinner Mitchell Swepson making a debut adding that currently he did not see any conditions around Australia that would warrant two spinners.
"I don't think anywhere in Australia that I've played on in the last few years has dictated a two spinner," he said. "We'd love to have that option, he's a class bowler, itching to get him in the side one day…we think he will debut one day, probably most likely with the amount of subcontinent tours coming up that will be his opportunity."
Australia XI 1 David Warner, 2 Marcus Harris, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Usman Khawaja, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey, 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Scott Boland