Boland retains Test spot, Khawaja returns

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  • Pat Cummins
    Pat Cummins
    Australian cricketer
  • Scott Boland
    Cricketer
  • Usman Khawaja
    Usman Khawaja
    Australian cricketer

Australia's latest cricket hero Scott Boland is being viewed as the "bulldozer bowler" capable of churning out the overs on an unresponsive SCG wicket against England, after fellow quick Josh Hazlewood wasn't deemed ready to return from injury.

Captain Pat Cummins on Tuesday said there would be just the one enforced change to the hosts' XI for the fourth Ashes Test starting on Wednesday with batsman Usman Khawaja replacing Travis Head, who was forced out of the match after testing positive for COVID-19.

Boland made a spectacular debut last week with a man of the match performance on his home ground at the MCG -- taking 6-7 in the second innings as Australia wrapped up the third Test, and the series.

The 32-year-old retained his spot in the line-up after Hazlewood, who has missed the past two Tests with a side strain, and fellow paceman Jhye Richardson, who has a leg problem, weren't deemed fit enough for selection.

Paceman Cummins said while there was some grass on the wicket and the possibility of rain during the match, the SCG in recent times had been hard work for the bowlers.

"I don't think we're going see it break up and turn or have that traditional dusty spin wicket... it looks really even at the moment," Cummins said.

"Maybe day one or two it might nip around and then probably just holds together more.

"There's a little bit of grass on it, but traditionally it's hard work and it goes five days and you need that really disciplined stump-to-stump bowler and that's what Scotty brings to the table.

"There's not a lot of swing here, there's not a lot of bounce, so you need that kind of bulldozer bowler who will just give you 50 overs in a Test.

"You need really good economical challenging fast bowling that's going to challenge the knee roll of the batters and I just think that suits him to a tee."

Cummins said he appreciated the significance of giving Boland a second Test.

"I spent about five years sitting on one Test and I hated when people talked about it," Cummins said.

"Because it felt like I hadn't proven anything, I'd only done one Test match.

"He's bowling as well as he ever has, it's great that he can just keep going from last week and have another crack here."

Cummins said he was hopeful Hazlewood would be fit for the final Ashes Test in Hobart.

"We gave Joshy every chance we could, we just felt like he couldn't quite bowl at full tilt yesterday," Cummins said.

The captain said Khawaja, who last played a Test in 2019, was a seasoned pro, just like Boland.

"You know what you are going to get from him, he's a class player, he knows his game really well," Cummins said.

"This is his old home, we were talking about it yesterday he loves coming back here... so expect a big game from him."

While glowing in what has been a dominant series for the Aussies, Cummins said had some sympathy for England's off-field struggles -- which most recently has included coaching staff members contracting coronavirus.

"I think its been really tough for them," he said.

"We're really thankful that they are out here as part of the series.

"In terms of the cricket side of things I couldn't be happier with how it's going for us... so we'll enjoy it while we can."

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