Why the Boxing Day Test is conducted annually at the iconic MCG
It is the Christmas season and what better gift than the crackling contest between India and Australia on the Boxing Day. The Boxing Day, the day post-Christmas Day, originated in the United Kingdom and celebrated largely in the countries that were part of British colonial rule. And when we talk about the Boxing Day, the ardent cricket fans would not find difficulty linking it with the Melbourne Test match. It has become almost like a ritual of Melbourne Cricket Ground to host a Test Match on the Boxing Day. Is there some history attached to it?. Let us deep dive into it.
The Melbourne Cricket Ground, commonly known as the MCG, is Australia’s largest and world’s tenth largest stadium. Melbourne Cricket Ground is the world’s largest stadium in terms of capacity and it has the longest light towers of any sports venue. MCG was built in the year of 1853. MCG hosted the first ever Test match and the first one-day international match between England and Australia in 1877 and 1971, respectively.
Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and New South Wales was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground over the Christmas season in 1892. The Test match did not start on the Boxing day but it had Boxing Day as one of the scheduled days. The New South Wales players were vexed with this idea as they wanted to be with around their family members in the Christmas season.
The first international Boxing Day Test at the MCG was held in 1950 which started on December 22 and ended on December 27 in the form of Ashes series between England and Australia. MCG saw no Boxing Day Test matches between 1953 and 1967. The 1974-75 Ashes series had six Test matches and for the long series to conform to the series schedule, Melbourne Cricket Ground had to host the third Test on the Boxing Day which resulted in a draw.
In the year 1975, Australia faced the mighty West Indies on the Boxing Day in MCG. West Indies were perceived as the clear favourites before the series started. A huge crowd of around 86,000 packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the Boxing Day. West Indies team led by the legend Clive Lloyd batted first. Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee ripped the West Indian batting line-up apart. In reply, Australia posted a colossal total of 485 runs thanks to the skipper Greg Chappell and Redpath’s centuries.
And the West Indies team never recovered with Dennis Lillee scalping three wickets. However, Clive Lloyd’s century helped reach West Indies reach a respectable score of 312 setting a target of 52 runs to Australia. Australia won the match with eight wickets in hand. Australia won the Test Series 5-1. It was because of this Test match what Boxing Day Test is right now.
During 1980, the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Australian Cricket Team acquired the rights of a Boxing Day Test annually at the MCG. The crowd turnover on Boxing Day is almost twice that of average crowd attendance on usual days. Owing to the huge attendance on the Boxing Day, the administrators are tempted to host a Boxing Day Test Match every year. Post-1980, the Melbourne Cricket Ground had hosted Boxing Day Test match every year barring 1989. In the year 1989, MCG hosted a one-day international match against and Sri Lanka on the Boxing Day.