It could only have been Scott Boland. You knew it would be Scott Boland all along. It is constantly Scott Boland. This has been Australia’s narrative for the majority of the last 18 months as they have advanced to the World Test Championship Final. A spell cast by Scott Boland that establishes the tone for the match. A Scott Boland spell that alters the match’s outcome. A Scott Boland took that wins the match for Australia.
This is how the World Test Championship Final at The Oval played out on the pivotal fifth morning. This was the perfect opportunity to observe a tutorial in how to position a top-tier hitter. The night before, Virat Kohli appeared unbeatable when batting. Then, as India held out hope for a miraculous run-chase, he proceeded to stroll out to bat with the same determination and assurance while also appearing in perilous touch. In Kohli, they had assurance. However, Boland only needed 12 deliveries at the premier batter to bring them back to reality.
Two deliveries later, he added Ravindra Jadeja’s wicket to his stunning set. The boisterous Indian supporters had been quieted. Around The Oval, the fever-pitch intensity had subsided. India’s chances of pulling off the impossible have been dashed. For all intents and purposes, the competition was finished.
If it was Boland who set the stage for Australia’s eventual march towards the World Test Championship mace on the final day, it was Travis Head who’d set the tone for it on the opening day. He’d achieved one of the best-ever counterattacking century in the history of major world championship finals across formats, despite the fact that the circumstances appeared to be heavily in the fast bowlers’ favor and Australia’s innings was at 3/76. And Australia’s resounding 209-run victory margin truly puts Head’s brash 174-ball 163 into perspective, emphasizing how it was the key difference between the two teams from a batting viewpoint.
The fact that Australia’s illustrious triumph in South London was bookended by two superb performances from Head and Boland seemed fitting in many respects. Additionally, they were the best at using the bat and ball. Because the story of the inauguration of the Pat Cummins period, including an ensemble cast of megastars, has been framed by the stories of their different travels over the last 18 months or during this WTC cycle.
Simply turn the time machine back to November 2021, when Australia embarked on its own expedition into the unknown led by captain Cummins, who had been given the position under unfavorable circumstances.
The insider who appeared to be leaving was Head. Boland was the outsider who no one ever imagined would be able to join. However, Head was the player who stuck his hand up every time his side had their backs to the wall and the surface was proving to be difficult to bat on, while Boland became the phenomenon who simply kept collecting wickets whenever his skipper pitched the ball at him. Whether it was the thrilling third morning in Indore against India, the Hobart match against England, the Gabba match against South Africa, or this one at The Oval. The fact that Cummins referred to them as his team’s two favorite players comes as no surprise. And two guys you can’t imagine him starting without in a starting XI going forward, which takes us to what Boland did on June11 to get rid of Kohli.
Boland had deftly started to make the former India captain doubt himself with small adjustments in line and length after carefully gauging Kohli’s desire to come forward, both in terms of his feet and his body weight, to every delivery. In only his third delivery, he smacked Kohli’s pads, sending the game’s opening ball past Kohli’s bat. He then managed to shape back in off a length in his subsequent over, almost shaving the right-hander’s off-stump. Then, he had gotten Kohli to miss with a ball of the same line and length to begin the following over, beating his bat in the process. The master batter was then forced out by the broader sucker ball, forcing him to edge to second slip where Steve Smith was diving. It’s a series of deliveries that you could play continuously. The delivery to Jadeja was in some ways even better since it slanted at the left-hander from around the wicket and left him at the exact spot when he was committed to play it, causing it to snag the outside-edge. The ultimate decision was then left up to Nathan Lyon, as he has done with so many significant Australian triumphs in recent times.