Ashes hero Scott Boland has marked his return to competitive cricket with four wickets on the opening day of Australia A’s tour match against Sri Lanka A as he builds towards the first of two Test matches in Galle.
Playing his first game since the Marsh Sheffield Shield final almost three months ago, Boland (4-38 from 16 overs) joined Mark Steketee (4-69 from 17) in leading the Australia A attack in the second of two first-class matches in Hambantota, with the home side finishing the opening day on 9-330.
In good conditions for the seamers, all nine wickets were caught off pace bowlers, including seven that were edged behind to the cordon.
While the fast men thrived, the Aussie spinners weren’t so lucky as young leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha (0-68 from 15) and veteran tweaker Jon Holland (0-91 from 19) both conceded more than four-and-a- half runs and over.
Steketee picked up two wickets in the morning session after the home side had elected to bat first before allrounder Aaron Hardie got in on the act and Boland got to work.
The Victorian’s first wicket came via an in-swinger than Sadeera Samarawickrama lobbed to mid-wicket before Boland reverted to his trademark good length to pick up another three wickets before the close, all edges behind.
Wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson picked up five catches, including a brilliant diving effort down the leg side to hand Steketee his third wicket, while Matt Renshaw and Marcus Harris grabbed two catches each.
While Boland continues to impress, he’s seemingly unlikely to play a role in the upcoming two-Test series at a venue in Galle that has traditionally favored spin bowlers.
Selector George Bailey has already flagged the prospect that star quick Josh Hazlewood may again miss out as well due to the conditions, with the same pace attack to the one used for the recent Test triumph in Pakistan – Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc and allrounder Cameron Green – favored to get the nod.
Australia A fixtures
Australia A squad: Scott Boland, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nic Maddinson, Nathan McAndrew, Todd Murphy, Jimmy Peirson, Josh Philippe, Matt Renshaw, Tanveer Sangha, Mark Steketee
Sri Lanka A one day squad: Dhananjaya de Silva (c), Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Udara, Lasith Croospulle, Oshada Fernando, Pabasara Waduge, Kamindu Mendis, Ashen Bandara, Janitha Liyanage, Sahan Arachchi, Pulina Tharanga, Dunith Wellalage, Dananjaya Lakshan, Shiran Fernando (will not play due to injury), Dilshan Madushanka, Pramod Madushan, Nishan Madushka, Ashen Daniel, Nisala Tharaka
June 8: Australia A won by seven wickets
June 10: Sri Lanka A won by four wickets
Jun 14-17: Australia A won by 68 runs
June 21-24: four-day match v Sri Lanka A, Hambantota