Absurd numbers behind Scott Boland’s heroics as Alex Carey’s ‘Achilles heel’ returns, Talking Points

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Australia is on the verge of securing a 2-0 series whitewash over the West Indies, with the hosts six wickets away from a comprehensive victory at Adelaide Oval.

Scott Boland was the hero for Australia on Saturday, claiming a triple-wicket maiden in the evening session to send the Adelaide crowd into raptures.

Earlier, run-scoring machine Marnus Labuschagne became just the second Australia to muster 500 runs in a two-Test series.

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AUS v WI: 2nd Test day 3 highlights | 06:50


Scott Boland entered the second Test against the West Indies with an average in single digits.

Given the pink ball under lights on day two, he didn’t take a wicket despite some promising overs.

Travis Head was quick to sink the boot in.

“I’m a bit flat with Baz (Boland),” Head told reporters after play.

“He hasn’t got a wicket yet so I’m not sure what he’s doing. I said that to him first couple overs.”

Asked about if Boland spoke about his average going into double digits, Head said: “Everyone else is probably saying it, especially myself and Harry (Marcus Harris).

“I don’t think (his average) is going to stay at 10. I think everyone knows that it’s probably going to drift out.

“But we might as well make the most of it while we’re at it. So hopefully he knocks a few over tomorrow and keeps it close to 10.”

Right on cue, on another evening with the pink Kookaburra, the Adelaide Oval turned into the MCG with Boland up to his old tricks.

For all the bad luck he had on Friday, the good cricket karma came back his way in one spellbinding over on Saturday.

The sixth over of the West Indies innings, which was Boland’s first of the night, saw him take a triple-wicket maiden with captain Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood all dispatched.

Boland teased the outside edge of Brathwaite, trapped Brooks lbw with a nip-backer, and then Cameron Green claimed a stunner at gully to send Blackwood on his way.

On the completion of the triple-wicket maiden, Boland returned to fine leg to a stunning standing ovation — and a new bowling average of 9.57 for his 21 wickets.

Of course, Head is right. That average won’t stay in single digits. After conceding a handful of runs before stumps, it now sits at 10.00.

But it’s clear that Boland is no longer only a MCG specialist or some sort of passing fancy in Test cricket.

According to Kerry O’Keeffe, he is outright Australia’s fourth-best fast bowler behind Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

With Hazlewood and Cummins on the sidelines in Adelaide, it sets up an intriguing selection dilemma for next week’s Brisbane Test against South Africa.

Former New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith said that there could be no choice but to give Boland a fifth appearance in the baggy green.

“Well he’s bowling himself into another Test match next week, I’m thinking,” Smith said on Fox Cricket.

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Scott Boland of Australia. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images


Alex Carey’s glovework has, for the most part, been very tidy during the West Indies Test series, but the 31-year-old’s “Achilles heel” returned on day three in Adelaide.

Moments before the dinner break on Saturday afternoon, Mitchell Starc drew an edge from debutant Marquino Mindley that flew low to Carey’s right.

But the South Australian was wrong-footed, with momentum dragging him towards the left as he dropped the chance with an outstretched right arm.

The error was almost identical to a missed chance during last summer’s New Year’s Test at the SCG against England, where Carey also failed to hold onto a catch low to his right.

During the Ashes, he was also guilty of letting edges fly between himself and David Warner at first slip, hesitant on his right side.

“Technically he had a bit of an Achilles heel, just low to his right,” former Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin told Triple M at the time.

“He’s very flat-footed when he goes … you’re meant to be pushing hard off that left foot.

“All he’s doing, he’s dropping his right leg to make way. He’s not getting any power to go and get power out of that left foot to go for that catch.”

Because Australia is seemingly cruising towards a comfortable victory over the West at Adelaide Oval, Carey’s drop will quickly be forgotten, but cricket fans will be less forgiving if the gloveman makes a similar mistake during the Ashes next year.

Carey did, however, claim a smart catch low to his right earlier in the first innings, helping remove West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder for a fourth-ball duck.

He has undeniably improved over the past 12 months, but there’s evidently still some kinks to iron out.

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Alex Carey of Australia. Photo by James Worsfold/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images


Needless to say, this has been a horrific tour for the West Indies middle order.

The opening duo of captain Kraigg Brathwaite and debutant Tagenarine Chanderpaul impressed during the Perth Test, but it’s otherwise been a forgettable campaign for their top seven.

West Indies vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood averaged 15.75, wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva averaged 11.66, No. 3 batter Shamarh Brooks averaged 13.00 while all-rounder Jason Holder averaged 12.66.

Meanwhile, spinner Roston Chase put together another commendable batting performance on Saturday afternoon, scoring 34 to frustrate the Australian bowlers before the dinner break.

It was enough for West Indies legend Brian Lara to question whether the visitors had gotten their batting order right.

“Check the scores (of the middle order) and then check the scores of seven to nine, and you would realise the West Indies would literally maybe have to bat the wrong batting order,” he said on Triple M.

“Roston Chase, Joshua Da Silva and we saw Alzarri Joseph as well, all putting up a fight.

“The openers laid a foundation, and nothing came from that number three, four and five positions.

“It’s a very simple, basic technique you need for good fast bowling. You’ve got to know where your off stump is.

“You’ve got to be able to play straight and expect the ball that’s coming in … there’s a lack of confidence, a lack of no-how and awareness in that top order – starting with Shamarh Brooks and Jermaine Blackwood.”

The West Indies have been completely out of the depth over the past fortnight, but they have 12 months to turn things around before returning to Australian shores next summer for another two-Test series.

However, whether or not they come back with the same batting attack remains to be seen. MORE CRICKET NEWS

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Devon Thomas of West Indies. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images


For most of his career, Nathan Lyon has been criticised for resorting to a defensive strategy or bowling darts of the pads with a heavy leg-side field when things aren’t going his way in the Test arena.

Almost every summer, Shane Warne would plead from the commentary box for Lyon to bowl wide of the stumps to right-handers.

“He should be landing it in line with the wicketkeeper’s right shoe,” Warne would assert, over and over.

And finally, it seems as though Lyon has taken on the legendary leg-spinner’s advice.

Lyon took 3/57 in the first innings at Adelaide Oval, unafraid to tempt right-handers into playing through the covers.

He repeatedly flighted the pink Kookaburra above the bowler’s eyeline and reaped the rewards for doing so.

West Indies vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood chipped a catch back to Lyon late on day two before the off-spinner trapped wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva and tailender Alzarri Joseph on the pads.

“I think in these two Tests he has bowled a more attacking line. I would consider it more attacking, outside the off-stump spinning back towards the stumps rather than bowling at the stumps,” former Australian batter Mark Waugh told foxsports.com.au.

“It just creates more options to get wickets, threatening the outside and the inside edge of the bat for the right-hander.

“He’s bowled beautifully. The ball is leaving his hand so well at the moment. He’s getting good revs on it.

“He’s bowling with a lot of confidence which is great because he’s going to be an important factor against South Africa.”

Lyon, meanwhile, is racing towards 450 Test wickets, one breakthrough away from becoming the fourth spin bowler to reach the milestone.

Nathan Lyon of Australia. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images


With another 31 runs on Saturday, Marnus Labuschagne’s run total for the two-Test series against the West Indies went above 500.

His 502 runs from four innings saw him average a whopping 167.33 with three centuries to his name.

As far as great two-Test series go, Labuschagne’s is sixth on the list of most runs ever scored in a two-Test series. He also surpassed Matthew Hayden’s 501 against Zimbabwe in 2003 to set a new Australian record in a two-Test series.

The series may have started with a few lucky breaks, and a couple of challenging periods under the short ball from Alzarri Joseph. But it ended with Labuschagne looking virtually indestructible.

Even when he looked fallible, he was still making runs – which is what makes him so special to this Australian top-order.

“He’s got a really good technique. He’s good against all forms of bowling. So he’s got a great base to work on with a good technique,” Mark Waugh told foxsports.com.au. “But I think his hunger for runs is what really stands out.

“He’s never satisfied, he just wants to keep batting and batting. Hence he makes a lot of big scores.

“That’s a really strong point (in his game).”

Waugh said he’s also impressed by how the No. 4 can bat at different tempos depending on what the game situation calls for.

“He reads the game well,” Waugh said. “He can sort of go up and down through the gears. He can defend, or he can accelerate if he needs to.

“So he’s got all the ingredients to be a really elite batsman.”

A sterner Test against South Africa will come over the coming weeks. Nonetheless, Labuschagne has already set the platform for a potentially record-breaking summer.

Marnus Labuschagne of Australia. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

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