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Boxing Day And Its Importance in Test Cricket

After the Christmas celebrations, Test cricket resumes in the international calendar with four teams playing Boxing Day Tests. Australia is currently playing the second Test match against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and South Africa will play England in the first Test at the Supersport Park in Centurion. It has a rich history and tradition one which has given Australian cricket an identity that it has today. With the boxing day hosting two Test matches in different parts of the world, it is a good time to dig into the history of boxing day Tests and its rich heritage.

What is Boxing Day?

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Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated the day after Christmas Day. It originated in the United Kingdom and is celebrated in several countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. Boxing Day is on 26 December, although the attached bank holiday or public holiday may take place either on that day or two days later.

In some European countries such as Romania, Hungary, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as a Second Christmas Day. There are competing theories for the origins of the term, none of which is definitive. However to sum up the importance of the day in short, is a secular holiday traditionally celebrated on 26 December, the day after Christmas Day. December 26 is also Saint Stephen’s Day. 

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What is Boxing Day in Australia?

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Boxing Day is a holiday in many countries, such as Australia, in the Commonwealth of Nations. It was traditionally a day for employers in England to give bonuses of money, leftover food or old clothing to their employees, or for lords to give agricultural tools and seeds for the coming year to their tenants. These gifts were presented in a box. Some people believe that this is the reason that December 26 is known as Boxing Day. In general terms, Boxing Day is a public holiday in 5 states, 4 external territories and 2 territories, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

People generally spend the entire day with family and friends celebrating the importance of the day. Shopping involves a greater part of spending the day as in some parts of Australia, the Pre-Christmas sale begins from the Boxing Day. The items are sold at a reduced price than normal also some items having massive discounts. Many people take advantage of the sales to buy products or services at significantly lower prices.

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What is a Boxing Day Test Match?

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The Boxing Day Test match is a Test match involving Australia and a touring team during that summer. The match is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground between the two teams. The second Test between Australia and New Zealand is currently being played at the MCG. Interestingly, between 1999 and 2007, Australia won seven straight Boxing Day Test matches to get into the records books of Australian cricket. They defeated opponents like India, West Indies, South Africa, England and Pakistan in the process. 

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Historically, the first-ever Boxing Day Test match was played between Victoria and New South Wales at the MCG in the Christmas period. That denied the New South Wales players to spend the occasion with their family. During the 1950-51 Ashes series, the Melbourne Test was the Christmas period with one of the days falling on the Boxing Day. Again between 1953 and 1967, there were no Boxing Day Test matches. However, again in the 1974-75 Ashes series, which was a six-match Test series, the schedule was changed and of the Test matches was started from the 26th December. That was the origin of the modern tradition, however, it was not till 1980 that the Australian cricket team and the Melbourne Cricket Ground earned the right to host a Boxing Day Test match. 

The Indian Cricket team will travel to Australia next year for the next edition of the Border Gavaskar trophy. The tour to Australia is also called the ‘ Tour Down Under’. India have played eight Boxing Day Tests against Australia so far having won just one game which came under Virat Kohli in India’s last tour to Australia in 2017. Between 1985 to 2014 India lost five matches while drew on two occasions. 

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