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Border-Gavaskar Trophy: Will Australia's Scott Boland rise to the occasion in unfamiliar Indian conditions?

Australian pacer Scott Boland is expected to share the new ball with skipper Pat Cummins in the absence of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood for the first Test against India in Nagpur.

ind vs aus 2023 Border-Gavaskar Trophy Will Australia's Scott Boland rise to the occasion in unfamiliar Indian conditions snt
First Published Feb 5, 2023, 7:18 PM IST

The role of a filler in a team sport is frequently underrated. Sometimes undervalued as well. They come without much commotion, quietly go about their business and then swiftly move out of the photo frame when the rightful owner of the team slot makes a return. The exit is as much unnoticed as the entry. 

Scott Boland, who will turn 34 in two months, doesn't have many more Test matches despite claiming to have miles in his legs that haven't yet been burned. Additionally, he lacks Pat Cummins' devastating bouncer, Mitchell Starc's back-bending toe-crusher, and Mitchell Starc's quick pace. Josh Hazlewood's unerring Glenn McGrath-like, "top of off" accuracy is also not his speciality. However, Boland has demonstrated bustling energy and the capacity to consistently hit the hard lengths in his six Test matches with a bowling speed that ranges from the early to mid-130s.

Also read: IND vs AUS 2023: Injured Hazlewood set to miss first Test; doubtful for second game

Come Thursday in the first Test between India and Australia at Nagpur, the burly Victorian is all but certain to share the new ball with his skipper Cummins in the absence of Starc and Hazlewood, both out due to injuries. 

While he plays Sheffield Shield for Victoria, Boland, in Grade Cricket, captains a club with a pretty weird name -- Frankston-Peninsula. In an article published by, the club is described as the "least glamorous destination" in Victorian Premiership competition. The description of the location supplements the theory. 

"Its home ground sits awkwardly on a hill between the loading dock of a homemaker centre and the tracks of the little-used Stony Point railway line." 

Boland, who made a dismal white-ball debut against India in 2016 in one of the meaningless bilateral moneymakers, could never have imagined making his Ashes debut on Boxing Day at his home venue.

At least that's what his manager Nick Byrnes had told The website wrote, "You have just got to put your best foot forward, and you know, a few injuries, he told Boland in the tone of a reassuring uncle."

Also read: IND vs AUS 2022-23: Will preparing rank-turner pitches backfire for India?

Even his father, Mick Boland, said that leave, alone figures of 6/7, they didn't even see his debut coming. "No. Not really; it all came about a bit unexpected. And then it came with a rush," he had told 

Additionally, his previous bat sponsor, a well-known UK-based corporation, had decided to end its sponsorship a year earlier. Perhaps they thought a 32-year-old had little of a future at the time. Boland is more than just an Australian cricket player; his inclusion in the lineup has a broader social significance.

Only Jason Gillespie and Boland are male Indigenous Test cricketers representing Australia. Boland, a member of the Gulidjan clan from Colac, Victoria, only learned of his Indigenous ancestry after the death of his grandad.

Every time Boland crosses the boundary rope, he represents his community's hopes, goals, and dignity, which is underrepresented in most international cricket. In a four-part Amazon OTT documentary series 'Test', one would observe that when Boland enters the Australian dressing room, his designated seat is near the refrigerator and the coffee maker rather than on the opposite side, where he is entitled to sit as a senior Victorian cricketer.

After working 12 years at the first-class level to earn his Baggy Green, captain Cummins stated in the commentary that he might never get another opportunity to play Test cricket.

"Our record of promoting Indigenous cricketers is a shameful one. Australia has fallen well short of where it should be," Gideon Haigh, inarguably one of the greatest cricketer writers in contemporary times, was heard saying in the documentary.

Also read: IND vs AUS 2022-23: Andrew McDonald asserts Cameron Green's 'outside chance' of playing Nagpur Test

In that documentary series, Boland expressed his understanding of the importance of his identity and what it stands for, saying that he plans to visit isolated parts of Australia to encourage young members of the Aboriginal community to take cricket seriously and to help spread the word about the sport, bringing his community into the mainstream.

If Boland gets a chance to play the first Test here, he would like to walk the talk, as he said in episode No. 2 of 'Test'. "The best way for me to be a role model is to keep playing cricket. And keep being seen. You can't be what you can't see." 

Scott Boland wants to be seen. For himself and his community.

(With inputs from PTI)

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