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Australia and Proteas set for Boxing Day blockbuster

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Scott Boland
Scott Boland

Local hero Scott Boland has retained his place in the Australia XI for today’s Boxing Day Test against South Africa at the MCG with an ‘underdone’ Josh Hazlewood to miss another Test as he continues his recovery from a side strain.

Since his debut in 2014, the metronomic Hazelwood has never been left out for a home Test while fit. But Boland’s irresistible form will see him get the chance to repeat his debut heroics from last year’s Ashes.

Hazlewood has missed Australia’s last two Tests in Adelaide and Brisbane due to a side strain but trained strongly in the lead-in to the Melbourne Test, bowling at what appeared to be full tilt in the nets on Saturday.

Injury has now seen him miss multiple Tests during three of the past four Australian summers, yet his place in the side had never come into question on home soil.

It has taken an astonishing start to Boland’s career, combined with Hazlewood’s injury misfortune which he has attributed in part to a heavy diet of white-ball cricket leading into this Test season, to change that.

The Proteas meanwhile have picked their XI but captain Dean Elgar was tight-lipped when asked for it ahead of South Africa’s first Boxing Day Test away from home since 2008.

Elgar did however give a strong hint that Theunis de Bruyn could return to the side, though it will not be at the expense of a bowler. Elgar reiterated his claim that his fearsome pace attack has left Australia with ‘demons’ after losing four second-innings wickets during their run chase at the Gabba.

Australia Squad: Pat Cummins (Captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Lance Morris, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.

South Africa Squad: Dean Elgar (Captain), Temba Bavuma, Gerald Coetzee, Theunis de Bruyn, Sarel Eree, Simon Harmer, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Heinrich Klaasen, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams, Khaya Zondo. (C.D)

Monday, December 26, 2022 – 01:00

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