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Boland returns for hometown Stars in BBL comeback

Andrew Mathieson -

Scott Boland's first competitive bowl in 48 days has showed that the Gulidjan man has not lost any of his spark.

The difficult-to-handle seamer had the ball nipping off the MCG wicket and thudding into the pads of batters in what was also his first appearance for the Melbourne Stars in five years on Saturday night.

He missed the entire 2022-23 Big Bash campaign for Hobart Hurricanes after Australian selectors plucked Boland out to play three of their five Tests.

But the 34-year-old this season has been forced to switch from a Sheffield Shield red-ball format to the white of the Big Bash in between spending more time in a dressing room among the Test squad without appearing once out on the field.

Stars captain Glenn Maxwell told the Fox Cricket telecast ahead of the return that there was "certainly no concern" that Boland would be underdone.

"He's an experienced campaigner and if he was 21 or 22, you might be a little more unsure of how he is going, but he is the consummate professional," Maxwell said.

"He's being bowling plenty of balls in the Australian (Test) set-up and he's been ready to go, raring to play Test cricket.

"But he now has this opportunity to play T20, so I am expecting him to be bowl fast, he will be swinging the ball too, hopefully similar to what we just had to face in the nets and that was an absolute nightmare."

Boland finished the encounter against the Sydney Sixers with the less than flattering looking figures of 2-38 that appeared to defy his influence on the Stars' fortunes.

They set their rivals an underwhelming 157 runs to win in spite of the loss of just four wickets, which was also made easier after the hosts conceded 12 runs in the opening over.

Enter the deadliest man on the ground in Melbourne's First Nations' BBL round game.

He quickly found his rightful back of the length of danger area from ball one in a frightful over.

Four of Boland's first six deliveries struck the pads that included one that called for a DRS review.

Sixers import James Vince struggled to make contact despite nailing 10 runs off his first five balls the previous over before Boland had a look.

It took a Josh Phillipe ramp shot over his left shoulder for six to bring the Victorian back to reality.

But it was just Boland's eighth delivery of the night until the Sixes opener misjudged the line and the subtle off-cutter, and Phillipe was bowled through the gate for nine.

Maxwell had to continually turn to Boland in the innings to get a breakthrough, as the Sydneysiders piled on the runs with no other bowlers firing.

That key wicket nearly happened in the 11th over – and the veteran's third – when a half-chance was clasped.

The ball sailed over the outreached hands of Marcus Stoinis running back towards the deep midwicket boundary.

A dozen of Boland's 25 deliveries in the night's spell finished up as precious dot balls, but he also had 26 of his runs swung away from five fours and a six.

Vince hit the last of the boundaries from Boland, pulling down on the shot forward of deep square leg.

But next ball a similar swipe off the short length had Vince nick through to keeper Peter Handscomb for 79 off 57 deliveries.

The spell had former great and analyst Mike Hussey convinced that there is no reason why the second-ever Aboriginal male to play Test cricket for Australia could not get an instant recall for another West Indies Test match in January for an 11th appearance.

"It was great to see him back playing again," Hussey said afterwards.

"He hasn't played a game since November 19, so he would have been itching to have a game.

"Came on and bowled really well, particularly early.

"He got that seam come back into the right-handers.

"I thought he could have a couple more wickets along the way there as well.

"But he still picked up two (wickets) on his return, he'd be happy with that.

"I think he would just be happy to get out their with his mates again and to just be blowing the cobwebs off.

"I'm sure he will just be getting better and better if he could get some more games.

"I think we might see him in the (Test) whites as well (for Australia)."


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