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Aussie Test debutant Scott Boland left cricket fans in a frenzy after a magical moment on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Before the start of day's play, the Victorian was presented with his Baggy Green by injured quick Josh Hazlewood, and earned a special mention in the Welcome to Country as just the second Indigenous man to play Test cricket for Australia.
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Boland showed promise after getting through his first five overs on his home track with figures of 0-17.
However, the big paceman had to wait until the final session of the day to grab the first Test wicket of his career, having been one of the premier bowlers in Sheffield Shield cricket for years.
The 32-year-old had most of the 70-thousand strong crowd inside the MCG appealing with him after trapping Mark Wood on the pads.
Umpire Paul Reiffel had a long, hard look before raising his finger to spark raucous scenes inside the stadium.
Wood instantly sent the decision upstairs for the third umpire to have a look at, with replays suggesting the ball hit pad before bat and was going on to hit the stumps.
Confirmation of Boland's special Test milestone saw fans flood social media to congratulate the Aussie debutant.
— Victorian Cricket Team (@VicStateCricket) December 26, 2021
— shahood hussain (@shahoodhussain3) December 26, 2021
Friendly reminder that Scott Boland is one of the VERY FEW indigenous test match players to represent Australia. Outstanding scenes.
— tessa (@tessamoroney) December 26, 2021
Scott Boland. What a moment! #VicsDoItBetter
— The name’s DJ, DJ Brox 🇦🇺🇲🇹 (@Borgus17) December 26, 2021
Scott Boland the most popular man at the G by the length of the Flemington straight #Ashes
— Tim Yeatman (@TimYeatman) December 26, 2021
I've very much enjoyed watching Scott Boland today and seeing the crowd salute him thusly.
— Alex Docherty (@TheAlexDocherty) December 26, 2021
Mitchell Starc then had recalled England batter Jonny Bairstow caught by Cam Green at gully for a well crafted 35 after a delivery that jumped up off the wicket and into the batter's gloves.
England found themselves nine wickets down when Steve Smith caught Jack Leach (13 runs) in the slips off the bowling of Nathan Lyon.
Boland then took his second catch of the innings to remove Ollie Robinson for 22 as England crumbled to be all out for 185.
Each member of Australia's bowling unit chipped in with wickets on an opening day at the MCG that very much belonged to the home side.
By tea, the tourist's had slumped to 6-128 with Aussie captain Pat Cummins the main destroyer for his side.
Familiar collapse for England's top order
The tourists have yet to reach 300 in any innings during this series and the familiar frailty of their top seven reared its head again as Australia bossed proceedings in front of more than 51,000 fans at the MCG.
England captain Joe Root was furious with himself for giving his wicket away on 50, his ninth unconverted half-century Down Under, but he was still the top scorer in a group that looks incapable of asserting any kind of authority.
Twice England lost a wicket in the last act of the session, Dawid Malan just before lunch and Jos Buttler on the stroke of tea.
At 2-0 down, anything but victory will mean England cannot reclaim the urn and that looks a considerable ask from here.
Cummins, returning to the XI after Covid protocols kept him out in Adelaide, was the star performer as he took three wickets in the morning session to lay the foundations for his side.
Having chosen to bowl first on an MCG pitch tinged with green, Cummins decided to share new-ball duties with Mitchell Starc and gave his side a perfect start to get the famous ground rocking.
Haseeb Hameed had left every ball of Starc’s opening over but had no such luxury against Cummins, who was immediately asking the kind of questions around off stump that demand affirmative answers.
His first two balls to Hameed zipped in off the pitch but the third held its line, grazing the edge of a pushy defensive stroke. Alex Carey swallowed the catch and England reached the unwanted landmark of a 50th Test duck in 2021.
Malan has been serving as a de facto opener since the start of the series, forced into service by the persistent failures above him, and took 18 deliveries to get off the mark as he began cautiously.
Zak Crawley, on the other hand, was eager to get going having replaced the dropped Rory Burns. There were a couple of nice connections, including a straight drive to get off the mark, but also an early swish at fresh air and a loopy leading edge that could have gone anywhere.
He was Cummins’ second victim for 12, squared up by one that kicked up and took the shoulder of the bat. Cameron Green did the rest at gully, bringing Root to the crease in the eighth over.
Joe Root fails to covert another 50
The England captain was immediately busy, dashing a single off his first ball and flicking debutant Scott Boland off his legs for four off his second. Most importantly he survived the rest of Cummins’ initial burst.
Things began to look more straightforward as soon as he was shuffled out of the attack and Australia’s hopes that Nathan Lyon’s spin would discomfort Malan did not materialise.
A sense of stability had emerged until Cummins elbowed his way back into the spotlight, slanting one across Malan with three balls of the session to go and snaring the edge. Malan was gone for a battling 14, leaving Root to carry the burden again.
He breezed towards his half-century in just 76 balls, another unhurried, calm knock from a player in the form of his life. He went third on the all-time list for runs in a calendar year, leapfrogging South Africa’s Graeme Smith, but there was another statistic he wanted: a first century in Australia.
But, for the ninth time, he could not turn his fifty into a ton. He did not get close, momentarily losing his concentration and flashing at a Starc ball that should not have threatened. David Warner was clapping before the ball settled in Carey’s gloves while Root was seen punching his bat in fury.
It was the first of three regrettable shots from experienced players in the afternoon. Ben Stokes was next, fighting his way to 25 before cramping himself for room trying to fabricate a risky uppercut against Cameron Green. He could only carve a catch to backward point.
Buttler was even more culpable deciding he would give Lyon the charge a few moments prior to the interval. It went horribly, with a gentle mis-hit sailing straight down the throat of Boland at deep-midwicket.
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