When Scott Boland was picked in the Australian XI for the Boxing Day game, it raised a few eyebrows as not many people could understand why Michael Neser, despite bowling well in the Adelaide test match, was dropped, but the reason why the Australian team management went with Boland was specifically because of his first-class record at the MCG.
It was a selection based on the policy of horses for courses and while it wasn’t totally justified at the end of the first innings, the way Boland bowled during England’s second innings left no doubt whatsoever that the decision to pick him ahead of Neser was indeed a masterstroke. On an MCG surface that was greener than usual, Boland exactly knew what lengths to hit when he came on to bowl late on the second day and then early morning on day 3.
Boland’s fifer in his debut test at MCG is the first-ever 5-wicket haul in the history of test cricket where the bowler got a wicket in every single over he bowled in that innings. Yesterday, when Boland was brought into the attack by the Australian captain Pat Cummins in the penultimate over of the day, he removed the England opener Haseeb Hameed straightaway, and then he also removed the nightwatchman Jack Leach in the same over itself.
Boland was not given the ball straightaway when the play resumed today, but when he eventually got into the attack, he trapped Jonny Bairstow in front of the stumps with a delivery that seemed to be an indipper, but then held its line after pitching. Boland’s fourth scalp in his next over was the England captain Joe Root, who once again edged the ball into the slip cordon.
Scott Boland completed his fifer with the wicket of Mark Wood
The 4th over of Scott Boland got him a further couple of scalps which helped him complete his first-ever fifer in test cricket. England’s no. 8 Mark Wood tried to take Boland on and ended up chipping the ball straight back to the bowler, and then Ollie Robinson was caught at the third slip off a delivery which was slightly seaming away from the right hander.
Cameron Green finished England’s innings in the next over by cleaning up James Anderson, otherwise, the kind of rhythm Scott Boland was in, he might have got another wicket if he had bowled his 5th over as well. The fact that Boland’s memorable debut was at his home ground, MCG must have doubled up the joy for him.