Home » Scott Boland embarks on maiden County Championship campaign in quest for another Test cap

Scott Boland embarks on maiden County Championship campaign in quest for another Test cap

“We want Boland! We want Boland!”

The MCG’s raucous Bay 13 chanted in unison during the recent Boxing Day Test against Pakistan, voicing their admiration for local hero Scott Boland — who wasn’t even playing the match.

Two years earlier, the Victorian became a national icon after taking 6-7 during a breathtaking four-over spell on Test debut against England, cementing his name in Ashes folklore. However, Boland only played nine of Australia’s following 29 Tests, carrying drinks for all seven matches during the recent home summer.

Courtesy of bowler-friendly decks across the country, Australia’s first-choice pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood managed to play every match against Pakistan, the West Indies and New Zealand this summer, keeping Boland on the sidelines.

Starc has repeatedly denounced the concept of player rotation, while the World Test Championship has given every match context, meaning Boland faces an uphill battle to play another Test.

Boland, who celebrates his 35th birthday in a few days, will need to wait until next summer’s Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India on home soil for another opportunity to add to his ten Test caps.

But with a crop of exciting young bowlers pressing their case for a baggy green, including Lance Morris and Xavier Bartlett, it remains to be seen whether Boland remains the first cab off rank should a member of the ‘big three’ sustain an injury next summer.

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Scott Boland of Australia. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Last week, Boland was named in Australia’s national contract list for the 2024/25 season, suggesting the right-armer is at no risk of missing the Test squad next summer. However, if a vacancy opened up ahead of contests in Perth or Brisbane, national selectors may be tempted to unleash ‘The Wild Thing’ Morris on a bouncy deck.

Boland can keep himself ahead of the pack by wreaking havoc with the swinging Dukes ball during his maiden County Championship stint with Durham, which gets underway in the United Kingdom this week.

He joins a crop of Australian Test star travelling to England this winter, including the likes of Nathan Lyon (Lancashire), Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan) and Michael Neser (Hampshire).

At Durham, who have been promoted up to Division 1 this year, he’ll play alongside England captain Ben Stokes and Test quick Mark Wood in four-day and T20 fixtures until the end of July.

Having turned down a County contract last year to keep himself fresh ahead of the Ashes campaign, Boland claimed five wickets in the World Test Championship final against India to help Australia win its maiden title. However, he was less effective during the Ashes, taking two wickets at 115.50 in two appearances against England at Edgbaston and Headingley.

Despite missing several matches due to Test commitments, Boland finished this season’s Sheffield Shield campaign as Victoria’s second-leading wicket-taker with 34 scalps at 15.32, including a five-wicket haul against New South Wales at the MCG. During the same match, he leapfrogged Paul Reiffel to become Victoria’s most prolific wicket-taker in Sheffield Shield history.

Durham’s County Championship campaign gets underway on Friday, facing Hampshire at Chester-le-Street’s Riverside Ground from 9pm AEDT.

Australians in the 2024 County Championship

Durham — Scott Boland

Essex — Daniel Sams

Glamorgan — Marnus Labuschagne

Gloucestershire — Beau Webster, Cameron Bancroft

Hampshire — Michael Neser, Ben McDermott

Kent — Wes Agar, Xavier Bartlett

Lancashire — Nathan Lyon

Leicestershire — Marcus Harris, Peter Handscomb

Northamptonshire — Chris Tremain

Somerset — Matthew Renshaw

Sussex — Dan Hughes, Nathan McAndrew