Scott Boland Ashes 2021

Australia’s Ashes-clinching hero Scott Boland was so nervous on his test cricket debut that he forgot to breathe.

At lunch on Sunday’s first day of play, Boland received some friendly advice from Australia assistant coach Andrew McDonald to add speed to his run-up.

Boland claimed a modest haul of one wicket for 48 in England’s first innings of the third Ashes test, before completing a remarkable debut by taking six wickets for seven runs in England’s second innings and winning the player-of-the-match award.

Boland praised his former Victoria state coach McDonald for supporting him during his first test match.

“He’s been huge. Since I found out on Christmas Eve that I was playing, I have been really nervous,” Boland said on Tuesday after Australia completed victory by an innings and 14 runs to take a 3-0 lead in the five-match series and retain the Ashes.

“Coming off at lunch on day one, that was hard work. I felt like I wasn’t breathing at all. I was just so nervous the whole time. He gave me clear instructions. He knows my bowling so well.”

Boland also received great support from his home-state spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. A crowd of 42,626 made the noise of a gathering twice as large when 32-year-old Boland took two wickets in his only over on Monday’s second day of play.

Boland took four wickets off three overs on Tuesday. The big right-armer’s figures of 6-7 for the second innings, including the key wicket of England captain Joe Root caught at slip for 28, left Tuesday’s crowd of 40,945 fans chanting his name.

“I’ve never had a crowd behind me like that,” Boland said. “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.”

Mission accomplished.

Boland equaled the record for the fastest five-wicket haul in test history, in 19 deliveries, alongside England’s Stuart Broad in 2015 and Australia’s Ernie Toshack in 1947.

Boland was named player of the match, winning the Johnny Mullagh Medal, which honors Australia’s 1868 Indigenous side which toured England.

Having been a part of the 2018 tour of England, marking the 150th anniversary of that tour, Boland said he was very proud to win the medal.

Boland, of Gulidjan ancestry, is the second Indigenous man to play test cricket for Australia, following fellow pace bowler Jason Gillespie.

“It’s really nice to get messages off those guys who were on the tour with us three years ago when we went to England,” Boland said.

“Growing up, all our family didn’t know we were Aboriginal. We only found out about seven years ago. Hopefully this can be a springboard for young Aboriginals to get involved in the game of cricket.”

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