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Boland back for Big Bash with Melbourne Stars

Andrew Mathieson -

Scott Boland is set for a long-awaited return to the Melbourne Stars on Saturday after an absence of nearly five years.

The Gulidjan man was released from the Australian Test squad on day two of the final match of the series with Pakistan after standing out for the first month of the Big Bash.

The 34-year-old has not made the final Test XI either in Perth, Melbourne, or Sydney, the frequent 12th man instead left to carry the drinks.

Test selectors had controversially rested Boland – considered the outsider to take the spot of either Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, or Josh Hazelwood – from the BBL opener at the Gabba last month.

The Melbourne team's homecoming was ruined after Boland was told only the day prior to a planned start against the Brisbane Heat that national bowling coaches wanted to keep managing his workloads with the ball ahead of the hectic international schedule.

Several critics condemned Cricket Australia for not allowing the seamer to deliver the four overs required for the Twenty20 outfit, still seven days out from the opening Test in Perth.

He was also left out of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne – on Boland's home ground of more than a decade – despite having the best first-class record of Australia's four bowlers at the MCG, and after taking a memorable 6-7 against England two years ago.

Boland has claimed 35 wickets at 20.34 in 10 Tests, in addition to 28 wickets at 12.21 in six Tests in Australia, and 10 wickets at 13.80 in two Tests at the MCG.

The extraordinary statistical record of Australia's second Indigenous male Test player only paired with a lack of presence of late in the shortest format of the game.

Not only has Boland not played a single game of cricket over the past 46 days since Victoria's Sheffield Shield victory against Queensland, but he has also not played in the past 21 BBL fixtures for his contracted sides.

Selectors named Boland 12th man twice last season from playing any of the 14 games for the Hobart Hurricanes, although he did appear three times for Australia during the dual Test series against the West Indies and South Africa.

Boland has not played for the Stars since their 2018-19 BBL campaign heading into Saturday night's clash with Sydney Sixers at the MCG on the back of Melbourne's four straight wins.

The return also coincides with the Australia's T20 league's First Nations round.

The cult hero of the Australian public has still amassed 70 BBL wickets in a workmanlike career that includes best bowling figures of 4-30.

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