Scott Boland under fire after 'insipid' figures in third Ashes Test

The Aussie fan favourite stormed his way into the Test arena late last year, but has struggled mightily in England.

Scott Boland.
Scott Boland failed to take a wicket in Australia's loss in the third Ashes Test, prompting questions about his place in the side for the final two matches. Pictures: Getty Images

In the wake of Australia's loss in the third Ashes Test, fan-favourite Scott Boland is coming under pressure to retain his spot after failing to take a wicket against England in the three-wicket defeat at Headingley. After the first two Tests went for the full five days, the third was wrapped up in four, despite losing nearly half a day of play to heavy rain earlier in the contest.

Boland finished with expensive figures of 0/49 from his 11 overs, a situation compounded by the pitch offering very little for spin bowler Todd Murphy. The popular quick also failed to take a wicket in the first innings, finishing with 0/35 from 10 overs, albeit at a far more economical rate.

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Questions have been raised about the quality of Australia's support bowling, as well as the consistent short pitched bowling which has had some success in terms of taking wickets, but also proved to be quite costly. The first innings lead was all but wiped out when the likes of Ben Stokes and tail-ender Mark Wood took full advantage of the short deliveries, with a similar pattern emerging in the hosts' successful run-chase.

Australian skipper Pat Cummins was below his best in the second innings (1/77, 15 overs), with shorter lengths again being seized on by England. Mitchell Starc (5/78, 16 overs) ensured the Aussies had a chance of victory, but the visitors simply didn't have enough runs to defend.

Boland's contributions were put under the microscope by cricket writer Harsha Bhogle, who said the Victorian paceman hadn't lived up to his status as a 'game-changer'. Others, such as former Victorian wicketkeeper Darren Berry, were much more critical of the consistent short balls that allowed England's tail to hang around.

“The support bowling looked insipid,” Bhogle wrote on Twitter. “A lot of us thought Boland could be a game-changer but Australia are getting nothing from him.”

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Berry was substantially more critical of the length bowled by Cummins in particular. England tailender Mark Wood proved to be a canny inclusion for England, not only taking seven wickets for the match, but also hitting four sixes and finishing with 40 runs from just 16 balls in both innings combined.

His contributions arguably proved to be the difference, particularly considering the ineffective contributions from Australia's lower order in both innings. Berry said England had been far more tactically astute in successfully targeting the stumps of Australia's tail-end.

“Mark Wood destroyed our tail with fast pitched balls at the stumps (in the) first dig. Starc cleaned bowled, Cummins expecting a bouncer done cold LBW and Murphy bowled," he wrote on Twitter.

"Why on earth are our two most experienced men just bashing short s**t into the pitch? It’s hard to watch and been costly.”

Pat Cummins celebrates a wicket with Australian teammates.
Pat Cummins has been criticised for Australia's consistently short pitched bowling in the third Ashes Test, which England were ultimately able to capitalise on. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Cummins was also called into question again for his defensive field when England were six wickets down at the time and their tail on the brink of being exposed. "I'll have another look at it and see if there's anything we might do differently," Cummins said.

"I still felt like with the ball, there was a little bit in there. So we were happy to give away a single but still felt like we left our catchers in, the two or three slips where you felt like you were going to take your wickets anyway.

"Overall, I thought we handled it not bad. You might look at a few different ways to go about it, but I felt like we made some decent decisions out there."

with AAP

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