Australian captain Pat Cummins is delighted that Scott Boland has the chance to move beyond being a one-Test wonder as the Victorian veteran prepares to line up in the Sydney Test, beginning on Wednesday.
Cummins has travelled the journey of a spectacular Test debut followed by years in the wilderness and wants Boland to savour his second Test in a week as Australia strives to go 4-0 up against a beleaguered England.
Scott Boland in the nets at the SCG. Credit:Getty Images
“It’s just huge,” Cummins said of Boland’s inclusion after Josh Hazlewood and Jhye Richardson were again overlooked because of injury concerns. The only change from Melbourne is Usman Khawaja replacing COVID-19 victim Travis Head.
“I spent about five years sitting on one Test and I hated it when people talked about it because I felt I hadn’t proven anything,” said Cummins, who was man of the match in his first Test as an 18-year-old then battled a series of bone stress injuries.
The difference of course is that Boland is 32, an age when fast bowlers can start to fade, and living a dream he must have felt was passing him by.
“It’s great that he can just keep going from last weekend and have another crack here,” said Cummins.
“I doubt it’s going to be 6-7 but I did say (to him) last week ‘Just nothing more than that. We’ll take last week. So don’t try any harder’.”
Cummins believes that Boland is tailor-made for a well-grassed SCG pitch which has a reputation for flattening out into a backbreaker for the bowlers. The grass and forecast showers ended any chance leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson had of a Test debut.
“There’s not a lot of swing here. Even; not a lot of bounce. So you need just that bulldozer bowler who will just give you 50 overs in a Test,” Cummins said.
Australia’s steady approach contrasts with England’s extraordinary flip-flopping. The tourists finally picked their best attack, four Tests into the series.
Stuart Broad has been recalled for just his second Test of the summer, bringing him together with Jimmy Anderson and the genuinely quick Mark Wood.
They should have all played in the first Test at Brisbane’s Gabba, which offered helpful conditions and the chance to set up the series.
Cummins the ruthless fast bowler revealed his human side, showing empathy for an England squad robbed of many support staff including head coach Chris Silverwood.
“I do a little bit,” said Cummins when asked if he felt for England.
“I think they’ve sacrificed quite a lot to come over here. A couple of weeks of quarantine, time away from families. Some restrictions on what they can do as opposed to pre-pandemic.
“And having some positive cases, the coach being away from this game, I think it’s been really tough for them.
“We are really thankful they’re out here as part of the series.”
But this won’t make any difference to Australia’s relentless charge towards a 5-0 whitewash.
“In terms of the cricket side of things, I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going for us,” Cummins said. “We’ve been on the other side of it before and it’s not going to be like that forever so we’ll enjoy it while we can.”
That extends to England’s captain and best player Joe Root, who is the leading run-scorer in the series with 253 at an average of 42 despite still never making a century in Australia.
“He hasn’t played that match-defining knock, which has been great. Everyone has bowled really well at him,” Cummins said.
“For (all-rounder) Cam Green to step up, as a captain I feel like I’ve got a lot of options to throw at him. That’s what you need when you’re playing against the best players in the world.
“He (Root) looked good. It’s up to us to keep him quiet. It’s been a really pleasing part of our bowling attack so far.”
While Green has been the one to unsettle Root with his relentless control, pace and bounce, it is Starc who claims the mantle as the best-performed all-rounder in the team at the moment.
Not only is he the leading wicket-taker in the series with 14 at an average under 20, but also as one of the more successful batsmen.
Starc has a batting average of almost 59 for the series, behind only Travis Head (62) and Marnus Labuschagne (60) and has made more runs (117) than all but two of England’s players.
Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja. Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.
England: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny, Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson.
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