The Boxing Day Test match is played on the 26th of December every year at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia. It is one of the finest traditions in the history of cricket and it continues to be relevant even till this day and age.
The cricket tradition has its roots in the country Down Under as every year the Boxing Day Test is played in the Australian summer between the host country and whichever team is touring them. All the schedules are tweaked around to ensure that people around the world can witness this special Test every year.
WHAT IS BOXING DAY?
Boxing Day is observed one day after Christmas on the 26th of December. It is a holiday which is celebrated in many countries in the world. The concept is pretty simple, the term originates from the word Christmas ‘Box’. People go around on the 26th to donate or gift Christmas Boxes to different people. This tradition came from the British and is mainly observed in countries which were former British colonies.
HISTORY OF THE BOXING DAY TEST
The first Boxing Day Test match was played way back in 1950 as Australia locked horns with arch-rivals England at the colossal Melbourne Cricket Ground. The fourth day of that first Test between the two fell on Boxing Day and that’s where it all began. From 1953 to 1967, there were no Tests played at the MCG on Boxing Day but this tradition picked up yet again in 1974 as the third Ashes Test was played on the 26th at the MCG and all other fixtures were accommodated accordingly.
It wasn’t until 1980 that Australia were formally given the rights to stage a Boxing Day Test annually in Melbourne. Since then, only once it has happened that a Test match didn’t start on that day when an ODI was staged between the Australians and the Sri Lankans in 1989. The 2013 Ashes Test on Boxing Day holds the record for the highest attendance figure on 26th December, as 91,092 fans showed up on Day 1 of the Test to show their love for the tradition.
INDIA’S RECORD IN BOXING DAY TESTS
Team India have played eight Boxing Day Tests at the Melbourne Cricket Ground against Australia. The first one came back in 1985 when the Kapil Dev-led Indian team almost won the match against the mighty Australians on their home turf. It was the great Steven Waugh’s Test debut as well. Who could have thought that the bowling all-rounder who struggled in both the innings of the Test will go on to become such a big legend in Australian cricket?
The next five Boxing Day Tests for India were forgetful. They lost all five and it wasn’t till 2014 that they could draw a Boxing Day Test. In 2018, Virat Kohli’s team went one step better as they beat the Australians by 137 runs at the MCG and this is India’s only Boxing Day Test match victory. No wonder this was India’s only series win in Australia in its cricket history as beating Australia on a Boxing Day Test dents the morale of the home team massively.
Can Team India replicate the feat in 2020? We’ll have to wait and hope for the best.
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