Ashes 2021-22: Boland confirmed for shock Boxing Day Test debut

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Victorian fast bowler Scott Boland has been confirmed for a shock debut in the Ashes Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

Australia captain Pat Cummins, who also returns to the XI after his COVID-19 scare in Adelaide, confirmed the decision on Christmas Day, with Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser dropping out due to soreness.

Boland, who plays his state cricket for Victoria at the MCG, took 8-89 in a match last month against New South Wales. The 32-year-old right-arm fast bowler has played 14 ODIs and three T20Is for Australia and has taken 91 wickets at 25.71 in 26 first-class games at the MCG.

"Really excited for Scott debuting here on his home ground," Cummins told reporters. "Jhye and Ness pulled up a little bit sore after Adelaide, so we made the decision to bring in Scotty. It's a luxury to have someone like him ready to go. He's fresh.

"We earmarked him as a chance for here and the SCG. We think he's really well suited. His record speaks for itself here in domestic cricket. Home ground and having someone fresh and ready to go were big factors."

Cummins explained that Richardson, who took a second-innings five-wicket haul to earn Australia victory in the second Ashes Test and a 2-0 series lead, was carrying a minor leg injury.

"He's pretty sore," he said. "We were umming and ahing. He had a bit of bowl-out yesterday.

"We felt seven days off, give him enough rest. He's got a small leg injury which is nothing major but we felt rather than risk a longer term injury, give him a week off."

Josh Hazlewood remains unavailable due to a side injury but is in the mix to return for the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney starting January 5.

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