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Boland stars as Australia retain Ashes

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England bowled out for 68

MELBOURNE, Australia, Dec 28, (AP): As Test cricket debuts go, it couldn’t have been much better for Australia fast bowler Scott Boland. Player-of-the-match Boland claimed the remarkable bowling figures of six wickets for seven runs as Australia beat England by an innings and 14 runs before lunch on the third day of the third Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday. More importantly, the massive victory meant Australia retained the Ashes with a 3-0 lead in the five-match series. Trailing by 82 runs on the first innings, England resumed on Tuesday on 31-4 and were bowled out for 68.

Australia’s Scott Boland, (second right), bowls to England’s Ollie Robinson on the third day of their cricket Test match in Melbourne, Australia. (AP)

Boland, who claimed match figures of 7-55 and a record-equaling five wickets in 19 deliveries, is only the second Indigenous player to represent Australia’s men’s test side. He was given the Johnny Mullagh Medal for player of the match, an award which honors Australia’s Indigenous team which toured England in 1868. Australia have swept England 5-0 in an Ashes series three times, in 1920-21, 2006-07 and 2013-14.

“It’s moments like these where everyone’s clicking, everyone’s playing really, that’s what you want to really make the most of,” Australia captain Pat Cummins said. “Two more test matches, home conditions. A few of the guys were part of that whitewash series in 2013-14, there’s a lot to look back on. We’ll savor this one and once we get to Sydney, we’ll be back on the tools.” The fourth Test starts Jan. 5 in Sydney and the fifth on Jan. 14 in Hobart. “Winning early on in day three just doesn’t happen at the MCG, so it’s fantastic result,” Cummins said. “To go 3-nil up, it’s the first Ashes victory for a lot of guys in the team. It’s just a great feeling.”

England captain Joe Root, who scored 50 and 28 in the match to become only the third player in Test history to score over 1,700 runs in a calendar year, appealed to his side’s sense of pride. “We need to put some pride back into the badge and we need to give people back home something to celebrate,” Root said. Root praised his bowlers for keeping his side in the match by restricting Australia’s first-innings lead to under 100. But Root admitted his side’s batting was not good enough and questioned whether England’s domestic competition was adequately preparing players for the challenges of the five-day game.

“We have to stay strong and look at the next two games to take something from the tour,” Root said at the post-match ceremony. Players from both teams were tested for COVID-19 overnight Monday after four persons from the England touring group tested positive, delaying the start of play on the second day. But play started on schedule on Tuesday after all the players had negative results – and proceeded for about 80 minutes until Australia quickly clinched the series. Ex-England captain Ian Botham said he was “a little embarrassed” by his former team. “To lose the Ashes in 12 days . . . I just think that England have lost their way,” Botham said on Australia’s Seven Network. “The performance today summed it up.”