Scott Boland’s shock Test debut on Boxing Day will put the Victorian paceman in select company.
Boland was only brought into the Australian squad last Tuesday as cover.
With Josh Hazlewood injured and already omitted from the third Ashes Test at the MCG, fellow quicks Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser were also ruled out with soreness after their efforts in Adelaide.
So Australia dropped a bombshell on Christmas Day, announcing Boland would join captain Pat Cummins as the two inclusions.
Boland will become only the fourth indigenous Australian to play Test cricket, alongside Jason Gillespie, Faith Thomas and Ashleigh Gardner.
“It’s huge … Australia, we have a rich history, 50-60,000 years,” Cummins said. “It’s great that’s starting to be reflected in our team.”
‘Doesn’t get any better’
Boland will also be the first Victorian to make his Test debut in the marquee MCG Boxing Day fixture since Tony Dodemaide, who took a five-wicket haul and made a half-century in 1987 against New Zealand.
Dodemaide is on the selection panel that gave Boland the nod.
“I’m really excited for Scotty, a class player, making his debut here on his home ground,” Cummins said on Saturday.
“Jhye and ‘Nes’ pulled up a little bit sore after Adelaide, so we made the decision to bring in Scotty.
“It’s a luxury to have someone like him ready to go. He’s fresh and he’s been consistent for so long.
“It’s his dream to wear the Baggy Green, but also a packed MCG, Boxing Day – it doesn’t get any better.”
Cummins said they had earmarked Boland to potentially play in Melbourne and at the SCG.
“The first thing you have to wrap your head around, playing at the MCG, is that you’re to bowl a lot of overs,” Cummins said.
“He does that really well.
“His pace stays up, he’s always at you, he bowls really well to left handers.
“He just asks a lot of questions. He’s always around that fourth stump, off stump … a little bit of nibble each way.”
Australia lead the five-match series 2-0 and will retain the Ashes with a win or draw at the MCG.
Despite losing Cummins and Hazlewood for the second Test in Adelaide, the Australian pace attack did not miss a beat.
“We knew, even with James Pattinson retiring, we had six-seven guys who could step in and do a really good job,” Cummins said.
“There was a little bit of that worry (about depth) going into Adelaide, but we saw how well Jhye and Nes bowled and gelled and how well Starcy (Mitch Starc) led the attack.”
Poms lop heads
Cummins also confirmed Richardson has a “small, little” leg injury.
“It’s nothing major but we thought rather than risking him and risking a longer-term injury, give him the week off,” he said.
England are in a fighting mood after their poor start and have made four changes, but Cummins said it will be business as usual for his in-form side.
“It’s pretty clear they’ve made a decision and made it public they want to make some changes in how they go about it,” he said.
“I’m really happy with how we’re going.”
Team: Pat Cummins (capt) David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.