Test debutant Scott Boland etched his name in the record books and became an instant cult hero in Australian cricket with an astonishing six-wicket haul that wrapped up the Ashes on day three of the third Test in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Plucked from obscurity when called up by selectors on Christmas Eve, the 32-year-old Victoria paceman finished with outrageous innings figures of 6-7 in four overs, sending his home crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground into delirium.
Dismissing opener Haseeb Hameed (7) and nightwatchman Jack Leach in his first over late on day two, Boland returned on Tuesday to trap Jonny Bairstow lbw for five in his second over.
His third over produced the prized wicket of England skipper Joe Root (28), with his fourth accounting for tailenders Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson, each going for ducks.
Along the way he matched the 19-ball record for the fastest five-wicket haul in Tests shared by England’s Stuart Broad at the 2015 Ashes and Australia’s Ernie Toshack in 1947.
Finishing with a seven-wicket match haul in a thumping innings and 14-run win, Boland could not have asked for a better debut.
“I’ve never had a crowd behind me like that,” said Boland, who slotted into the side after injuries to pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Jhye Richardson.
“I tried to soak it up when I was down at fine leg. I really enjoyed it. It felt like they were pushing me on when I was running in to bowl.
“I was just hoping I was going to be good enough.”
Boland is only the second Indigenous Australian male to play a Test after Jason Gillespie, who played his last Test in 2006.
Boland grew up unaware of his Indigenous heritage, which includes links to the Gulidjan people, an Aboriginal tribe from the western part of his home state Victoria.
After discovering his ancestry seven years ago, he toured England in 2018 with other Indigenous Australian players on the 150th anniversary of the renowned 1868 Aboriginal cricket tour to the same country.
Boland won the Johnny Mullagh medal as player of the match on Tuesday, the award named in honour of one of the leading cricketers on that 1868 tour.
“Hopefully this can be a springboard for young Aboriginals to get involved in the game of cricket,” said Boland.
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