Australian selector George Bailey says Scott Boland’s incredible test debut is a “big headache” as the Sydney Test approaches.
- Josh Hazlewood was able to return to the team after missing the last two tests with a side load
- Mitchell Swepson is queuing up for his Test debut if Sydney conditions favor spinners
- Marcus Harris’ place is secure after a solid blow in the first round at MCG
Victorian Boland were the hero on the third day of the Boxing Day Test, claiming 6-7 from four overs as Australia retained the ashes.
But with Josh Hazlewood on the verge of returning from injury and Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson solidly in the mix after solid performances in Adelaide, Boland could still make room after just one test.
“It’s a big headache,” Bailey said.
“We do not mind headaches at this time of year. I would much rather have that headache and some difficult decisions to make than scratch our heads to find a solution to a problem. I look forward to working through it.
“Of course some tough conversations to be had at some point. We would love something more than a full squad to be able to choose from.
“There were a few moving parts that Scott could seize this opportunity. He’s been on that radar. We’ve talked a lot about our desire to try to build some depth and robustness in our teams. It all just fell into place.
“The fact that we have Pat (Cummins), Josh and Mitch (Starc) as three world-class leading fast bowlers across all three formats is a big issue and an honor for them.”
Added to the complication of the bowling line-up is that SCG is traditionally a spinning pitch where Australian voters consider whether to choose Queenslander Mitchell Swepson as a play-spin option alongside Nathan Lyons off-spin.
Swepson has been selected in seven test teams since 2017, but has yet to make his debut.
“We would not love anything more than for (Swepson) to get an opportunity, but it will depend on the circumstances,” Bailey said.
“One of the things that is really difficult – and I think Michael Neser has been the greatest example of this over the last few years – is that being on the periphery of some teams … it can make it really hard because you’re so close, but you do not necessarily play as much for your state or Big Bash franchise as much as you would like.
“We have no doubt that whether it’s SCG or whether it’s some time in the future that ‘Sweppo’ is ready. We love having him around the group, love everything he comes up with. Hans cricket is getting better and better. “
Hazlewood has been missing from the Test squad since straining his side in Brisbane, but Bailey said he was confident the fast bowler would make the right question of whether he was fit enough to play in Sydney.
“I have pretty good faith that if (Hazlewood) is confident and he says he has the right to go, I think we would support him. He deserves that confidence,” Bailey said.
“They put a hell of a lot of pride and effort into every single test and I do not think the series that ends will take away from that. For (Hazlewood) especially the opportunity to play a test match in his also home state, I think There is always plenty to play for. “
Bailey also backed under-fire opener Marcus Harris to build on his impressive first half at MCG after scoring the top scorer for Australia with 76.
“I think Harry has looked really good in the series,” Bailey said.
“There have been a few good catches that have rejected him at various times.
“Can’t give him enough credit for that bank last week because of the challenge with the wicket as an opening dough.
“[He was] glue there. [It] was exactly what you’re looking for from an opening boatman. I thought it was a great example of how Harry can play and contribute to this team, so I’m really happy for him. “