Scott Boland keeps spot in Australian team for Sydney Ashes Test

Boxing Day Test hero Scott Boland has retained his place in Australia’s XI for the fourth Ashes Test in Sydney, after fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood was not deemed ready to return from injury.

Captain Pat Cummins on Tuesday said there would be just the one enforced change to the side to play England at the SCG from Wednesday, with Usman Khawaja replacing Travis Head, who is unavailable after testing positive for Covid-19.

Boland made a spectacular debut last week, taking 6-7 as Australia wrapped up the third Test on his home ground and won the player-of-the-match award. The Victorian retained his spot after Hazlewood, who has missed the past two Tests with a side strain, fell short of proving himself fully fit, as did fellow paceman Jhye Richardson, who has a leg problem.

“Scotty gets a go, Joshy Hazlewood had a few bowls and with Jhye [Richardson] a bit similar,” Cummins said. “Just not quite up to 100%, we gave Joshy every chance we could. We just felt like he couldn’t quite bowl at full tilt yesterday. We’re still hoping that he will be right for [the fifth Test in] Hobart, just give him another week.

“I think this wicket you’re not going to blast them out. There’s a little bit of grass on it but traditionally it’s hard work. It goes five days and you need that really physical and stump to stump bowler and that’s what Scotty brings to the table.”

The Australians again opted for a four-man pace attack and one spinner. There had been talk uncapped spinner Mitchell Swepson might get the nod. However, Cummins suggested the Queensland leggie was likely to get a debut in one of Australia’s Tests on the subcontinent next year.

He said the SCG had been hard work for bowlers in recent years and with rain forecast during the Test the pitch might not break up that much.

Team: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland. 12th man to be named.