Three-part documentary Allan Border: My Story premiers on Fox Cricket after day two of the Boxing Day Test on December 27.
Allan Border has weighed in on Australia’s biggest selection conundrum for the Boxing Day Test, saying Scott Boland should be picked over Josh Hazlewood.
Hazlewood’s return to fitness creates a major headache for selectors George Bailey, Andrew McDonald and Tony Dodemaide, who will need to leave one talented Test bowler disappointed at the MCG.
Former selector Border said he would lean towards leaving out Hazlewood to give him more time to recover from a minor side strain.
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“It’s a tough one, but I would go Boland (over Hazlewood),” he told foxsports.com.au on Thursday, ahead of the December 27 release of a three-part Fox Cricket documentary on his career.
“You don’t know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes, but Josh is a bit underdone.”
There remains a realistic possibility that Boland could miss out instead, despite his ridiculous five-Test career which has included 25 wickets at 10.36, and a strike rate of 30.2.
Boland has been instrumental in Australia’s success this summer — his last three innings have seen him take 3-16 at Adelaide Oval, and 2-28 and 2-14 at the Gabba.
The Test summer now heads to his home ground, the MCG, where the 33-year-old made his debut last year, taking an otherworldly 6-7 against England that will live on in Australian sporting folklore.
Nonetheless, Hazlewood remains a fast-bowling force himself, one with credit in the bank to the tune of 217 Test wickets at 26.16.
For that reason, Australia legend Brett Lee said on Fox Cricket that he would tip Hazlewood over Boland.
However, he added: “He’s got to be fully fit though. Coming back from a side strain is really tough. When you think you’re ready, you’ve got to give an extra week.
“I think what Cricket Australia might do is rest him in Melbourne and play him up in Sydney.”
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Meanwhile, Border sees no reason to leave anything to chance with Hazlewood’s comeback given the quality Boland offers.
“That grunt muscle injury, the side strain, that’s probably the worst injury you could have as a bowler, because every ball you put effort into that stresses that part of the body,” Border said.
“Obviously he’s done net practice and all the rest of it but it’s never the same as in a match condition. So I’d be worried he gets to bowling and he pushes a bit hard in a match situation and it pops again.
“There’s no rush to get Josh back because Boland is such a good option. And playing at home and all the history from last year, it will just be a real buzz to have the home-ground boy playing. And then you can rethink things for Sydney.
“The safety-first option for me is Scott Boland … nothing against Josh, I just think it’s a compelling argument to leave Boland in and just keep Josh in the wings getting better and stronger and ready to rock and roll maybe for Sydney.”