Australia have decided to include Scott Boland ahead of Michael Neser as the third pacer for the first Test against South Africa at the Gabba starting on Saturday (December 17), coach Andrew McDonald has confirmed.
Both Boland and Neser were included in Australia’s squad for the day/night Test against West Indies at the Adelaide Oval, which the hosts won to seal the series, in the absence of the injured Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc.
Both of them had done well in the match and it came down to choosing one and the Australian team management opted for Boland ahead of Neser. With Hazlewood still unavailable, Boland with partner Cummins and Starc as the third pacer against South Africa.
“Expecting Scott to take that spot at the Gabba,” McDonald told reporters ahead of Australia’s departure for Brisbane. “That’s the running line, and he’s done nothing wrong.
“His record is amazing at the moment, so he’ll take his place and the assumption is that Pat does play. So you’ve got Cummins, Starc and Boland, with (allrounder Cameron) Green and (spinner Nathan) Lyon to support around that.”
After claiming three wickets in Adelaide in one thrilling over under the lights, Boland has the best average (10.33) and strike rate (30.6) in the world among bowlers with at least 20 Test wickets. And the 33-year-old has done this in four Tests that he has played so far.
Boland commenced the summer out of the Test side, and might again drop out if Hazlewood returns from a side strain for their second or third Test against South Africa. Though there was some hope too as the Australians will continue to rotate their pace attack as they have a tight schedule ahead in 2023, even if the bowlers do not suffer more injuries.
“It’s an arduous task, probably a little bit tougher for the players to manage their way through a summer,” said coach McDonald.
“We’ve already seen we’ve had some casualties early on in the summer.
“It’s just a reality, the games keep coming. Last year it was Covid and injuries as well, so (rotation) wasn’t by design nor has it been this early in the summer. It’s something that is forced upon us.
“Would we have the same mentality if we were all fully fit? Yeah, potentially.”