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Scott Boland handed Boxing Day debut with Australia cautious over Jhye Richardson

The Victoria pace bowler has a fine record at the MCG and has been in superb form this season

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Victoria pace bowler Scott Boland has been handed a surprise debut in the Boxing Day Test against England with Australia taking a cautious approach over a minor leg injury to Jhye Richardson.
Boland, 32, becomes the fourth Indigenous Test cricketer after Faith Thomas, Jason Gillespie and Ashleigh Gardner. He is one of two changes with Pat Cummins returning in place of Michael Neser.
"It's huge," Cummins said. "Australia, we have a rich history and it's great that it's starting to be reflected."
Boland, who previously played 14 ODIs and three T20Is in 2016, has been selected as something of a home-ground specialist having taken 96 wickets at 25.56 in 27 first-class games at the MCG. This season in the Sheffield Shield he has taken 15 wickets at 10.80 which propelled him into the Australia A squad ahead of the Ashes, before he was hastily flown into Adelaide last week after Cummins' Covid close contact drama.
"The first thing you've got to wrap your head around playing at the MCG is you'll have to bowl a lot of overs more often than not and he does that really well," Cummins said. "The Shield game they won against New South Wales, think he bowled 50 overs.
"His pace stays up, he's always at you, bowls really well to left handers. Asks a lot of questions around that fourth stump, knee roll, a bit of nibble each way. He's just really well suited here."
"We earmarked him as a chance for SCG and here, we feel he's really well suited. His record speaks for itself here in domestic cricket."
He gets his chance after Richardson pulled up sore after his efforts in Adelaide, where he took a maiden five-wicket haul in the second innings, with Cummins saying there was "small" leg injury which they did not want to risk.
"He's pretty sore," Cummins said. "We thought seven days off, give him enough rest…so rather than risking him give him a week off."
Boland's debut is a further sign of the depth of Australia's fast-bowling stocks and means that six will now have been used across the first three Ashes Tests. Last summer Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc played unchanged against India while in the previous season the now-retired James Pattinson came in for two Tests.
"The biggest factor has been the fitness of the bowlers," Cummins said. "The fact that Joshy, Starcy and I haven't missed many games in the last few years has probably been the biggest factor in us not rotating through quick bowlers. Inevitable in a five-Test series that things were going to pop up. It's probably been a few years in the making where we have six or seven and need to use them."
Reflecting on his own absence from the second Test after being deemed a close contact for having dined in an Adelaide restaurant next to a positive case, Cummins admitted his frustration at the situation but added that watching from afar gave him a difference perspective.
"I said to JL [Justin Langer], I'm really angry but don't know who at. There was no one to blame. When I left the restaurant I thought, that's fine, I didn't get near him and I'll test negative. Then it became the state rules and you've got to follow them.
"When I knew I wasn't playing I thought this would be a good chance to sit back and enjoy it as a fan then after about an hour I was quite angry, wishing I was back out there. It was interesting to listen to some of the commentary, see what the rest of Australia is seeing outside of our little bubble."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo