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Boland's injury scare an area of concern for Test tour selection

Andrew Mathieson -

Scott Boland's ticket on the flight to New Zealand and possibly his reliable standing as the ready-made replacement for Australia's pace cartel could remain in jeopardy.

However, the seasoned campaigner has for the time being been cleared of serious long-term injury.

He left the Junction Oval after play on Saturday night to undergo a MRI scan on a worrisome left knee.

"He's got pain in his anterior knee/knee tendon," a Cricket Victoria spokesperson said in a statement to the media on Saturday.

"We're confident that he'll bowl in the second innings."

Boland did return to the ground on Sunday and batted at No.11, adding five runs to the tail and giving Victoria a handy115-run first innings lead in its Sheffield Shield clash.

But he failed to bowl a single ball when South Australia faced up for a second innings during the final 20 overs of day two.

The Victorian camp says the scans revealed no structural damage and that Boland is trying to deal with the "wear and tear" on his knee.

There was no further comment on Sunday when the stalwart may return to the field in the game though.

The diagnosis assessed the problem came from "acute inflammatory signs around his patella tendon".

Victorian coach Chris Rogers wanted to allay fears that Boland's career, at least, was not at the crossroads.

"It's really just low-grade wear and tear in his knee - it's nothing too serious," Rogers told Kayo Sports' telecast.

"He will probably be managed just a little bit with how much he bowls."

The Victorian quick had initially pulled up severely sore late on the opening day.

Boland was forced to leave the field before his teammates bowled the visitors out cheaply after sending down just the first five balls of the 17th over.

He looked the worse for wear and was somewhat shuffling off the oval when the Gulidjan man's day ended early.

Spinner Todd Murphy, who played six Tests last year, stepped up to bowl the final ball of the over.

The bigger concern after finishing with 1-33 in an assortment of typical containment, wild movement off the seam and wide offside bowling is the long-term effects of the injury on the ageing body while in a race against time.

Australia's next Test match starts on February 29 against the Black Caps in Wellington and selectors will have to be vehemently confident of his fitness several days before the small touring party departs.

A genuine injury instead of a trivial niggle would nix Boland from the brief itinerary that includes just one other Test in Christchurch.

Captain Pat Cummins has all summer told Boland to "stay ready" in between the Tests against Pakistan and the West Indies.

Boland has not played during the last seven matches since Australia lost for the first time in England after claiming the Test world championship final over India and the first two Ashes rubbers.

But for all intents and purposes, the Gulidjan man has remained in the Test squad as the spare paceman, including being named 12th man more times than not.

In eight of Boland's 10 limited Tests, he's taken either a spot from an injured or rested Hazlewood or Starc in the starting lineup.

Boland's 35 wickets at just 20.34 over the past three years has kept his name ahead of fancied Test contenders Lance Morris, Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser.

But the duties of carrying the drinks this season has also left Boland lacking bowling practice in match conditions, appearing just four times with the red ball in the Shield competition.

His discernible age is another area of concern looking ahead to the future after a bold, unexpected run may no longer the second Aboriginal Test cricketer of all time be in the frame next season, especially if his knee issues linger.


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