Not everyone will have known Scott Boland’s name on Christmas Day but Australia has a new cult hero it is only too keen to embrace.
Many casual cricket observers might not have recognised the name Scott Boland before this week — but he was impossible to miss as Australia thrashed England by an innings and 14 runs in the third Ashes Test on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old became the oldest fast bowler to make their Test debut for Australia in more than 70 years when he was called into the starting XI for the Boxing Day blockbuster, replacing Jhye Richardson to join Mitchell Starc, captain Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon as part of the home team’s attack.
Catch every moment of The Ashes live and ad-break free during play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.
And boy didn’t he make an impact.
The Victorian is a renowned MCG specialist who, before this international fixture, had taken 42 wickets at 14.35 in his past six first class outings on the ground. And he went to new heights wearing the baggy green.
Having taken two wickets in an over late on day two, Boland tore through England’s middle and lower order on Tuesday, striking four times to finish with the incredible figures of 6/7 from just four overs for the innings.
It gave him match figures of 7/55 to go with two catches in England’s first innings.
“I’m speechless,” Boland told Fox Cricket. “Coming here today, I thought we had a pretty good chance of winning, but I had no idea it’d be over before midday.
“They (the crowd) were amazing. They’ve supported me so much since day one and going down there (to fine leg) just gives you a real big buzz.”
In commentary for Fox Cricket, ex-England captain Michael Vaughan joked: “Just retire. Retire at the end of the day’s play. If I’m Scotty Boland, this will not be surpassed.”
Boland capped off an unforgettable debut by winning the Johnny Mullagh medal for player of the match. It’s fitting because Mullagh was an Indigenous cricketer who led an all-Aboriginal team to the UK in 1868 and Boland is just the second ever Indigenous male cricketer to represent Australia.
In 2018, the paceman went to the UK to retrace the journey of Mullagh and his Indigenous side 150 years earlier and on Tuesday, Boland was wearing a medal named in his honour.
“About 17 of us went away a couple of years ago to commemorate the tour from 1868,” Boland said, per The Daily Telegraph. “We got to learn so much about that tour and what went on and my family are very proud and I’m obviously very proud to win this award.”
The loudest cheers of the match came whenever Boland struck. Even his runs from No. 11 sent the home crowd into a frenzy and he was always welcomed back to his fielding position on the boundary with appreciative cheers — much like Merv Hughes was accustomed to back in the day.
Channel 7 reporter Andrew McCormack revealed there was only one thing that went wrong for Boland on his dream debut.
“The only hiccup for the Boland family today was some bad timing from his Dad,” McCormack tweeted. “Mick Boland planned to watch final 2 sessions after work this morning.
“After a mad dash to the ‘G he arrived to see his son had 6/7 to his name and the Ashes won!”
After having Haseeb Hameed caught behind and bowling Jack Leach on Monday, Boland picked up where he left off on Tuesday morning.
He trapped Jonny Bairstow LBW and not even a review could save the Englishman, as the ball was shown to be clipping the top of off-stump and the on-field umpire’s call remained.
Next, Boland had Joe Root — who top scored with 28 — caught by David Warner at first slip as the England captain drove at a full delivery. Then the burly paceman held onto a sharp return catch to dismiss Mark Wood caught and bowled for a duck.
That gave Boland his fifth wicket and he could hold the ball up to all corners of the MCG, but he wasn’t done there. The procession continued as Ollie Robinson became the next batter to nick off and in the blink of an eye Boland had half a dozen scalps to his name.