Scott Boland was simply hoping to make “a little bit of an impact” on his Test debut.
Never in his wildest dreams did he think his contribution on the biggest stage of all – a Boxing Day Test against the old enemy – would be deemed worthy of the player-of-the-match award.
In the end, his spectacular haul of 6-7 in England’s second innings destroyed the tourists, sealed the Ashes series for Australia and was impossible to overlook for the Johnny Mullagh Medal.
Having claimed two wickets in an over during the dramatic final hour on day two, Boland returned to centre stage on Tuesday morning.
The 32-year-old seamer took another four wickets in the space of three overs, including the prized scalp of England captain Joe Root.
Root’s dismissal effectively ended the tourists’ resistance as they were skittled for 68 and failed to make Australia bat again.
Boland equalled the record for the fastest five-wicket haul in Test history, matching the 19-ball efforts of England’s Stuart Broad (2015) and Australia’s Ernie Toshack (1947).
The scintillating Test debut capped a remarkable rise from when Boland was fighting for a spot in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield side with Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Chris Tremain.
“There was definitely a time when I thought playing for Australia was gone,” Boland said.
“Coming into the game I knew that I was going to have a bit of cloudiness or fogginess in my thinking with the crowd being so loud.
“It’s different to what I’m used to bowling with the red ball but I just tried to stick to what I’ve done for the last six or seven years in Shield cricket because I knew that’s what got me here to this point.
“I was just hoping it was going to be good enough.”
Boland finished with match figures of 7-55 from 17 overs in a performance that justified Australia’s horses-for-courses selection policy on his home ground.
“He’s been really calm and confident in his own ability, and just brilliant around the squad,” captain Pat Cummins said.
“We were incredibly impressed with the way he bowled in the first innings and this (second) one, in particular, but we’re not overly surprised.
“We knew he was going to do a great job on the MCG – probably surprised that he took 6-7 – but he did what the selectors picked him for. He was fantastic.”
Boland, of Gulidjan ancestry, became just the second Indigenous man to play Test cricket for Australia, after fellow quick Jason Gillespie.
His debut came three years after he and his brother Nick went on the 2018 Aboriginal XI tour of the United Kingdom.
That tour commemorated the 150th anniversary of the pioneering all-Indigenous side that became the first Australian sporting team to tour internationally in 1868.
Boland received congratulatory messages from friends and fellow Indigenous players, including Dan Christian and D’Arcy Short.
“It’s something that I’m very proud of now,” Boland said.
“My family would be very proud and I’m very proud to win this (Johnny Mullagh Medal) award.”