Scott Boland has retained his spot in Australia’s bowling attack for the fourth Ashes test after his starring role in the series-deciding victory over England in Melbourne last week.
Boland made his test debut last week and took six wickets for seven runs as England collapsed in the second innings in Melbourne, allowing Australia to retain the Ashes with two matches to spare.
Veteran pace bowler 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 made one injury enforced change for the test starting Wednesday at the the Sydney Cricket Ground, with Usman Khawaja replacing middle-order batter Travis Head.
Khawaja’s return for the first time since 2019 comes after Head was ruled out following a positive COVID-19 test.
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,“ Cummins said. “We just felt like he couldn’t quite bowl at full tilt yesterday.”
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.”
England, with head coach Chris Silverwood in isolation because of COVID-19, is yet to confirm its lineup.