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Why December 26 Test is called the “Boxing Day Test”?

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day. It was called “The Second Christmas Day” in some European countries.

Boxing Day Test was a consequent extension of a long tradition, in where a Sheffield Shield match between the Australian domestic teams – Victoria and New South Wales, was played every year in MCG around Christmas Week during the 1890s.

In 1950, the 1st ever International Boxing Day Test match was played in MCG – The Melbourne Cricket Ground. The 3rd Test match of that year’s Ashes Trophy Series was held on 22-27 December, with the Day-4 of that match falling right on Boxing Day.

It took 30 more years for the Boxing day Test match culture to become a regular happening.

1950 to 1980 – Boxing Day Tests

From 1950 (when the inaugural Boxing Day Test match was held) to 1980, only 6 Boxing Day Tests were conducted in MCG, and three more in Adelaide – 1967, 1972 & 1976.

Thanks to the 1975 match between Australia and West Indies, captained by Clive Lloyd, the Boxing Day test got into its prime.

MCG, one of the biggest Cricket Grounds in Australia, recorded a record crowd attendance of 85,661 on the Boxing Day of 1975 match, which is also one of the reasons why Boxing Day Test matches are being played in the Melbourne Cricket Ground every year.

Australia vs West Indies Boxing Day Test 1975
Australia vs West Indies Boxing Day Test 1975 [Source: SportsKeeda]

On the 1st day of that Test match (26th December 1975), Australian bowlers Jeff Thompson and Dennis Lillee toyed over one of the greatest ever West Indian batting line-ups of the 1970s in front of the massive crowd, picking 9 Wickets between them.

One of the most significant wins in Tests came for Australia in that match by 8 Wickets. And the craze for Boxing Day Tests started there.

Still, Cricket had to wait five more years to witness the next Boxing Day Test in 1980, from when it had become a regular (every year).

Boxing Day Test Records

The Boxing Day Test against New Zealand in 2019 was the 44th Boxing Day Test played in MCG.

Here is Australia’s record on Boxing Day Tests, so far.

 Boxing Day Tests
Matches Played45
Won by Australia25
Won by Opponents10
Draw10

Apart from Australia, England have played more Boxing Day Tests in MCG, playing 12 and won 4.

You can also read our report on the Ashes Series Records and History here!

India won its first Boxing day Test in 2018, and then again on 2020.

The other two teams that have won Boxing Day Tests in Australia are the West Indies and South Africa, who have 2 Boxing Day Test victories each in MCG.

Australia’s eight consecutive Test victories from 1999 to 2007, is the longest streak in the Boxing Day Tests history.

Boxing Day Test Fixtures

The Boxing Day Tests in MCG for the years 2020, 2021, & 2022 have also been fixed by Australian Cricket.

  • Boxing Day Test 2020 – Australia vs India – Won by India.
  • Boxing Day Test 2021 – Australia vs England
  • Boxing Day Test 2022 – Australia vs South Africa

Wrapping it up!

Despite its rich culture, the Boxing Day Test is dying a slow death for few specialists in the game.

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The new guy in the town–the Big Bash League, is what is evolving into the next big thing Down Under.

Even few years back, The Guardian reported that the Big Bash crowds continued to beat the Test match attendance figures, especially on Boxing day.

Image of Big Bash Crowd attendance
The MCG scoreboard shows the record attendance at a BBL game [Source: Sydney Morning Herald]

Still, I reckon, with the high standard clashes, between the top sides like Australia & India or England, the culture of Boxing Day Test cricket will keep long and ongoing!

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