Scott Boland, who bagged the Player of the Match Award in the Boxing Day Test, has retained his place in the playing XI for the fourth Ashes Test that gets underway on Wednesday in Sydney. The hosts had to make one forced change with Usman Khawaja replacing middle-order batter Travis Head who was ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19 last week.
After making his debut in Melbourne, the right-arm quick picked up six wickets for seven runs as England collapsed in the second innings, allowing Australia to retain the Ashes urn. Josh Hazlewood was ruled out for a third consecutive match because of a side strain, ending any debate about Boland’s spot in the starting XI.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins on Tuesday said Hazlewood and Jhye Richardson had gone through some bowling practice but weren’t fully fit.
“Just not quite up to 100%. We gave (Hazlewood) every chance we could. We just felt like he couldn’t quite bowl at full tilt yesterday,” Cummins said.
Australia’s pace bowling stocks are strong, with Cummins and Mitchell Starc getting strong support across the last two tests from Boland, Richardson and Michael Neser, who made his debut in the second test in Adelaide, and allrounder Cameron Green.
After inspecting the pitch, Cummins opted against bringing in Mitch Swepson as a second spinner to work with Nathan Lyon.
“You need that disciplined stump to stump bowler. That’s what Scott brings to the table,” Cummins said. “It’s no secret. If Josh Hazlewood was available, he was going to play. (But) it would have been a real shame to see Scotty not play this week after his efforts last week. I’m really glad he gets another crack out here.”
Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.
(With Agency Inputs)