In less than a week of Test cricket, Australia has reclaimed the Ashes as debutant quick Scott Boland bowled the most spectacular debut spell ever seen at the MCG, dismissing England for 68 runs.

Despite posting just 267 in their one turn at bat, Australia won by an innings and 14 runs, giving them an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match Vodafone Series, with games still to be played in Sydney and Hobart. Boland completed his long-awaited Test debut with remarkable second-innings figures of 6-7 from four overs, earning him the Johnny Mullagh Medal as player of the match, which he justifiably (and symbolically) won.

It was the finest debut bowling at the MCG since Test cricket began there in 1877, and it was a win for the 32-year-old, who, after former fast bowler Jason Gillespie, became only the second man of Indigenous origin to represent Australia at Test level on Boxing Day.

After both sides returned negative PCR tests overnight in response to the COVID fear that rocked the tourists’ camp yesterday, England arrived at the pitch today, knowing they’d have a fight on their hands to challenge Australia’s grasp on the Ashes.

Nobody could have predicted Joe Root’s team’s catastrophic abandonment of their final six wickets for 22 runs in less than 11 overs in the clear morning sunshine.

The story of misfortune began when Mitchell Starc rattled Ben Stokes’ stumps in the fifth over of the day, and no one in England’s lower order scored more than five runs as the game and series were finished in just over an hour. Root and Stokes returned to the series with a decidedly optimistic attitude after receiving some nice negative news overnight.

With a superb off-drive, Root despatched the fifth ball of the morning to the long-off boundary, and Stokes followed in his skipper’s footsteps in Starc’s next two overs with a couple of replica drives that both resulted in boundaries.

But, as has been the case from the first day of the Ashes in Brisbane, England was sent back to the canvas as soon as they got to their feet. Starc angled a delivery into the left-hander that found its way between pad and blade and blasted into the leg bail two balls after Stokes smoked him dismissively down the ground.