Melbourne: Australian pace bowler Scott Boland said on Tuesday that bagging six second-innings England wickets on Day 3 of the third Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was “a dream come true”, adding that he never thought it “would ever happen”.
The 32-year-old Test debutant became the hometown hero after he added four more wickets to his overnight two to emerge the most successful bowler in the Australian side, giving away just seven runs in the four overs he bowled to demolish the tourists for 68 runs and earn the hosts an innings and 14-run victory.
Boland’s figures of 6/7 are the best by a debutant on the MCG in 144 years, and the only player to have taken more wickets is Tom Kendall, who recorded 7/55 in 1877 — five years before Australia’s victory at The Oval gave life to the Ashes, according to sen.com.au.
“It is a dream come true,” Boland said on his effort, which helped Australia retain the Ashes after taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series. “I didn’t think anything like that would ever happen. I’m just really lucky, I think.
“We got off the ground 20 minutes ago and I’ve been mobbed by my family and teammates. It’s just been a whirlwind,” added Boland, who reunited with former Test opener and his Victorian state coach Chris Rogers as soon as the match got over.
Rogers said that he had received encouraging words for Boland from national selector George Bailey earlier this year.
“I can remember conversations in the winter where (national selector) George Bailey would call you and say just hang in there, there might be an opportunity coming your way,” Rogers recalled.
“Did you actually believe him, did you think it was lip service or were you genuinely thinking ‘I’m going to get a chance here?’” said Boland.
With pace bowler Josh Hazlewood recovering from a side strain and Adelaide star Jhye Richardson rested, Boland was chosen ahead of Michael Neser for the third Test.
“I thought there was a chance I might be in the squad, but I didn’t think I’d play,” Boland said. “When Hazlewood pulled up a bit sore, I thought maybe there might be a chance for me there, because I think we can play similar roles. But no, not really. I didn’t think I’d get this opportunity.”
Hard work pays off
Boland feels his Test debut is the culmination of his efforts in domestic cricket as he has taken 45 wickets over the last two Sheffield Shield seasons.
“The amount of work I’ve done over the last six or seven years… it’s worked. I didn’t have to change anything when I got to the crease. The stuff I’d done in the pre-season for the last four or five years, trying to be really strong and fit at the crease and doing work on my action it’s all paid off today.”
Boland has become only the second Indigenous male player to wear the baggy green after pace bowler Jason Gillespie, who played 71 Tests between 1996 and 2006.
On Tuesday, he was awarded the Johnny Mullagh Medal — named after the Indigenous cricket great — as the player of the match.
In 2018, Boland linked up with an Aboriginal XI for a tour of England, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour to England. The 32-year-old only learned he is an Indigenous Australian when he was in his 20s, as his family came to learn his grandfather was descended from the Gulidjan people, according to sen.com.au.
On his new celebrity status, Boland said the media interactions embarrasses him. “I find doing all of this media stuff a bit embarrassing, but I might as well soak it up because it might not happen ever again,” he added.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison led the tributes to Boland after his dream debut.
“How good!!! They don’t come much bigger than that. An Ashes triumph to rival the best at the G (MCG). Congratulations to @patcummins30 (captain), @stevesmith49, Justin Langer (coach) and the whole team — and especially @sboland24 — an inspirational performance. A great day,” tweeted Morrison.
Former England cricketer-turned-commentator Michael Vaughan said: “England nowhere near good enough... they will know that... but seeing a 32 yr old (Boland) on debut on his home turf with the Crowd going berserk is what makes Sport so special... Well done Australia... Far too good for England... #Ashes.”
Australian cricketing great Shane Warne tweeted: “Amazing stuff and how good was @scottboland24 on debut rocking the mighty MCG — just awesome, well done mate.”