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What is Boxing Day Test in Cricket?

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Devang Joshi

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Jul 09, 2024

What is Boxing Day Test in Cricket?

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A Boxing Day Test normally begins on the next day of Christmas, i.e., on the 26th of December in countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. But the most famous one is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Australia.

Some say that alms boxes were opened in churches during that day, while others say that servants were given presents for working on Christmas. There are various reasons why the 26th of December is called Boxing Day. It is celebrated in memory of St. Stephen, who was the patron saint of horses.

On the 26th of December, various sporting events are organised, especially in Commonwealth countries that fall under the Southern Hemisphere.

This day is reserved by countries like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand for visiting teams during the summer months of December, January and February.

 

Also Read | The Golden Age of Australian Cricket: Dominance in the 1990s to Mid-2000s

 

History of Boxing Day Test Matches and its Popularity

The first Boxing Day Test match was held between New South Wales and Victoria in 1892 at the MCG in a Sheffield Shield game. However, the match wasn’t scheduled to start on the 26th of December, but it was just a playing day of that match.

The first official Boxing Day International Test match was played between Australia and England during the 1950-51 Ashes series at the MCG, but it started on December 22 with Australia winning the match by 28 runs.

However, from 1953 to 1966, there weren’t any Boxing Day Test matches. However, they resumed in 1967 when India toured Australia, but the Boxing Day Test began on the 23rd of December in Adelaide.

In the next year, the West Indies played against Australia in the Boxing Day Test, with the match beginning on its original date. But after that tour, Boxing Day was either skipped, the game ended on that day, or it was played in Adelaide due to some scheduling issues.

Thus, in 1980, the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Australian Cricket Board decided to start the test match on Boxing Day itself and at the MCG.

Before that, MCG had witnessed only four test matches between 1952 and 1980, while Adelaide had witnessed three games in 1967, 1972, and 1976.

When the West Indies toured Australia in 1975, Australia defeated the West Indies in the Boxing Day Test match by 8 wickets, and in that match, 85,000 spectators were present on the first day. During the 2013 Ashes series, the highest number of spectators were present, with 91092 visitors present inside the stadium.

There have been some memorable moments during Boxing Day in the past, like former Australian legend and skipper Steve Waugh making his debut during Boxing Day in 1985 and late West Indian pacer Malcolm Marshall claiming his 300th test wicket on Boxing Day in 1988.

Former Australian leg spinner and late Shane Warne claimed a hat trick on this day in 1994, and in 2006, he claimed his 700th test wicket against England on this day.

During his test debut in 1999 against India, former Australian pacer Brett Lee claimed his first five-wicket haul on this day.

Read Next | 10 Iconic Moments In World Cricket

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