Boland them over: Nick Boland (right) playing for Frankston in the VFL. Photo: Kate HealyIf the brother of promoted paceman Scott Boland can land a blow on the West Indies, wait until they face the best bowler in the family.
The Windies vowed to show more fight in the Boxing Day Test, but if the adage “you train like you play” is true, another one-sided match looms in Melbourne.
As national selector Rod Marsh was breaking the news to Boland of his inclusion in Australia’s Test squad as replacement for Nathan Coulter-Nile, the Victorian’s younger brother was making a mark of his own at the MCG nets.
In an ominous sign for any fan who has bought tickets for day four, the Windies’ batsmen were finding life difficult against a band of club bowlers.
Just ask the most experienced member of their top six, Marlon Samuels, who gave first-grade bowler Nick Boland a great story to tell at Christmas lunch by nicking off.
Technically it was not out, as there were no fielders, though a repeat on Boxing Day would present a straightforward chance to first slip.
Samuels drew comparisons with the great Viv Richards after impressing as a teenager against a mighty Steve Waugh-led Australian team in 2000, but has failed to pass 50 in five innings this tour.
His confidence will not be helped when he learns Nick Boland made his first-grade debut only two months ago, having spent last season in the seconds and thirds. He spent the previous six years chasing his dream in football, reaching VFL level with Frankston.
Jermaine Blackwood fared even worse than Samuels. The Windies No.5 had his stumps shattered by a second-grade seamer – hardly the tonic for a player coming off a pair in his last Test.
Blackwood is no duffer, having taken a century off an England side containing James Anderson and Stuart Broad this year, but is one of several Windies batsmen in an alarming form slump.
“When you’re not scoring runs it’s difficult to pick yourself up and go,” Darren Bravo, who scored a century in Hobart, said.
“I believe the guys have that resilience in them, most of us know how to score runs. We’ve scored international runs already, we’ve proven we are definitely capable of playing at this level, it’s a matter of going out there and spending some time.
“I know if we spend time in the middle we will definitely score runs. It’s important we give ourselves the best opportunity to get in.
“The conditions are very foreign to us, we are not used to that sort of pitch back in the Caribbean, but having said that you spend time, you respect the good balls, put away the bad balls, you will be rewarded in the end.
“It’ll be challenging, but I think the guys are really up for it.”
Their seemingly casual approach to fielding practice, conducted for the large part at a leisurely tempo, belied Bravo’s confidence in a form reversal.
It prompted questions as to whether the visitors, who are yet to win a game this tour, were training at the appropriate intensity.
“I don’t think the guys are relaxed, we’re very pumped up for this Test match,” Bravo said. “They fell short in the first Test match in Hobart and look to put on a better show here.
“It’s a very important game for us, most of us playing in a Boxing Day Test match is a dream come true. We’re going to put up a better fight.”
Just days ago in Geelong against a Victorian second XI, senior quick Jerome Taylor had his back turned to the field during play, missing a catch directed his way. The blunder was dismissed as “just a mishap” by Bravo.
“The guys are putting in the work and it’s a matter of going out there and executing,” Bravo said.
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