OPINION

Australia's newest sporting hero Scott Boland will still need to battle for Test spot

Australian cricket coach Justin Langer should set up a meeting between fellow West Australian Bob Massie and Australia's newest sporting hero Scott Boland.

If anyone could assist the Victorian paceman in dealing with the huge expectations after making a spectacular Test debut, Massie would be the ideal person.

Massie was 25 when he took the most wickets as a Test debutant _ 16_ against England at Lord's in 1972.

The WA swing bowler would play only five more Tests and never took five wickets in an innings again.

Boland's debut in front of his home crowd at the MCG was unforgettable and the chances of emulating the incredible figures of 6-7 in the second innings will be close to zero.

Victorian fast bowler Scott Boland made his Test debut for Australia on Boxing Day at the MCG and finished with outstanding figures of 6-7 in the second innings of the match.

Victorian fast bowler Scott Boland made his Test debut for Australia on Boxing Day at the MCG and finished with outstanding figures of 6-7 in the second innings of the match.

Even at 32 Boland could still have a successful international career, but he will have to deal with the inevitable comparison to his magical performance in the third Test, which thrilled the MCG fans in the final two days and deservedly earned him the player-of-the-match award.

For now it is remarkable to ponder that Boland may be on the sidelines for this week's fourth Test at the SCG.

Josh Hazlewood is keen to return after missing the past two Tests with a side strain to partner captain Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, who has been Australia's leading wicket-taker in the three Ashes Tests this summer.

Jhye Richardson made the most of his opportunity with a five-wicket haul in the second innings in Adelaide and Michael Neser acquitted himself well in his debut Test there.

Much depends on the SCG pitch and Australia will be tempted to pick leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson to partner Nathan Lyon.

Selectors face tough calls and whoever misses out will be considered most unlucky.

But the line-up of Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc and Lyon is the number one attack and unfortunately Boland, Neser, Richardson and Swepson are likely to be overlooked.

Pitches too bowler-friendly

The pitches and conditions for the first three Ashes Tests have provided far too much assistance for bowlers.

Striking the right balance between bat and ball has been a constant battle recently, particularly at the MCG, and Tests finishing in just over two days are disastrous for the game.

The second Test in Adelaide was more batsman-friendly, but the day-night conditions and pink ball meant scoring was often difficult and gave pacemen plenty of opportunities.

In the third Test the batting, particularly from England, was poor, but Australian opener Marcus Harris showed with application, determination and some luck that runs could be scored.

The pitch was far from unplayable, but the best MCG surfaces offer the pacemen assistance on the first day, settle down to perfect batting strips on the second and third days before breaking up and bringing the spinners into play.

While results are more desirable than draws in Tests, spectators love to see batsmen make hundreds as well.

In the previous Ashes Test at the MCG four years ago, the ground was put on notice that it could lose the marquee Boxing Day game after the pitch was rated as poor by the International Cricket Council.

England opener Alastair Cook carried his bat for an unbeaten 244 as the match was drawn, with only 24 wickets falling for 1081 runs.

Since then the MCG pitches have become far friendlier to bowlers.

Of the 15 days scheduled for Tests so far this summer, almost four days have been lost because of the Gabba and MCG Tests ending prematurely.

Various key stakeholders, with Channel 7, Foxtel and many radio stations at the top of the list, would be angry about the early finishes.

Cricket Australia, venue operators and associated businesses at and close to grounds, already struggling with the impact of Covid-19 in the past two years, also would have been seriously affected.

Warning signs in Ashes triumph

While Australia rejoices with its Ashes triumph, there are clear warning signs for CA administrators in England's lamentable performances.

With the post-mortems well and truly under way in the UK, the game's structure should come under severe scrutiny.

The emphasis on the shortened forms, particularly T20, has been detrimental on batting and the effects have been exposed alarmingly on this tour.

The old-time England professional is a distant memory as the new breed struggle at the crease with a combination of poor technique, lack of footwork and concentration.

As well as the Australians have bowled and caught in this series, England's batting, aside from skipper Joe Root, has been disgraceful.

In Melbourne the tourists provided little more than catching practice for the Australians with their angled bats and shoddy footwork.

Australia needs to be careful that it does not go down the same path.

The Big Bash League is losing its appeal and the bulk of resources should be concentrated on the Sheffield Shield and grade/district cricket around the country to ensure correct habits are developed from an early age.

There are plenty of good bowlers at first-class level, but there is a dearth of talented young batsmen.

The Sheffield Shield provides the ideal platform for cricketers to show their wares and eventually go on to play at international level.

The Shield should not be thrown open to international players either _ it is there to ensure Australia sits at or near the top of the Test rankings.