Boland gets chance to relive historic debut as Aussies name XI for Boxing Day Test

    Local hero Scott Boland will play the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, with Josh Hazlewood ruling himself out of contention.

    Skipper Pat Cummins said Australia would stick with the XI that beat the tourists in Brisbane last week in a two-day Test match.

    Hazlewood missed the second Test against the West Indies in Adelaide and last week’s match due to side strain and saved the selectors a tough decision by declaring he was still not at 100 percent.

    Boland enjoyed a remarkable debut last year, taking 6-7 in the Boxing Day Ashes Test – the first of his five Tests so far

    Meanwhile, South Africa’s underperforming top order has gone back to the drawing board, aiming to fulfil its part of the bargain in the Boxing Day Test.

    Captain Dean Elgar confirmed at least one change to his side’s batting line-up, but would not confirm who is in or out ahead of Monday’s toss at the MCG.

    While Elgar hails their pace attack as the best in the world, South Africa are not making enough runs to give the bowlers a realistic chance.

    They have scored more than 400 only once this year, against Bangladesh.

    Their woes were highlighted on the Gabba green-top earlier this month as Australia won by six wickets inside two days.

    “Our build-up in Brisbane was brilliant, we had two weeks that the guys were actually batting quite well,” said the opener, who was dismissed for three and two at the Gabba.

    “It was a bit of a hiccup that we had (at) the Gabba. But both batting units had that, bar one batsman (Travis Head’s 92 for Australia).

    “Going back to the drawing board, that was the biggest thing for us and trying to simplify things, make guys aware of certain things that they’d maybe forgotten about.

    “It was just about giving the guys a little more clarity and clearing the mind, going into the next one.”

    The absurdly short Test also put a fierce spotlight on the Gabba wicket, which the International Cricket Council rated as below par.

    Elgar said the MCG pitch is firming up well as Melbourne’s weather improves.

    “I hope it’s the past and never to be repeated again,” he said of the first Test’s deck.

    For all South Africa’s problems in Brisbane, Australia were 4-35 in their second innings as the tourists’ pace attack tried to make a point.

    Elgar was asked if that early collapse was likely to have left any mental scars for Australia ahead of the second Test.

    “I definitely think so, yes. I’ve always been a massive pundit of our bowling unit,” he said.

    “I always say I’d rather be facing them in the nets for a short period of time than facing them out in the middle, because I know what they can bring to the table.

    “So hopefully those four wickets on day two have created a few demons … we’ll see.”

    As much as the Australian attack is hailed for its potency and depth, Elgar was keen to spruik his own bowlers’ talents ahead of Boxing Day.

    “Ours is the best in the world,” he said.

    “If people want to underestimate them, that’s OK. We believe and we have massive faith in them, that they can win us a Test match in any situation.

    “But we have to get them into that situation, so they can perform their trade.”

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