The Ashes: Usman Khawaja returns to Australia XI for Sydney Test

Written by Abhishek Patil

Scott Boland has retained his spot in Australia’s bowling attack for the fourth Ashes 2021-22 Test in Sydney after his starring role in the series-deciding victory over England in Melbourne last week.

Boland made his Test debut last week and took six wickets for seven runs as England collapsed in the second innings in Melbourne, allowing Australia to retain the Ashes with two matches to spare.

Veteran pace bowler Josh Hazlewood was ruled out for a third consecutive match because of a side strain, ending any debate about Boland’s spot in the starting XI.

Australia skipper Pat Cummins on Tuesday said Hazlewood and Jhye Richardson had gone through some bowling practice but weren’t fully fit. “Just not quite up to 100 per cent. We gave (Hazlewood) every chance we could,” Cummins said. “We just felt like he couldn’t quite bowl at full tilt yesterday.”

Australia’s pace bowling stocks are strong, with Cummins and Mitchell Starc getting strong support across the last two tests from Boland, Richardson and Michael Neser, who made his debut in the second test in Adelaide, and allrounder Cameron Green.

After inspecting the pitch, Cummins opted against bringing in Mitch Swepson as a second spinner to work with Nathan Lyon.

“You need that disciplined stump to stump bowler. That’s what Scott brings to the table,” Cummins said. “It’s no secret. If Josh Hazlewood was available he was going to play. (But) it would have been a real shame to see Scotty not play this week after his efforts last week. I’m really glad he gets another crack out here.”

England, with head coach Chris Silverwood in isolation because of COVID-19, is yet to confirm its lineup.

Australia Playing XI: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.

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Abhishek Patil