Boxing Day Test Historical Background and Information

Get a complete historical background and information on the varied Boxing Day Test Matches that are held.

One of Australia’s most favored sporting events is the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, which takes place after the excitement and exhaustion of Christmas Day. There are numerous explanations for this that go far beyond the fact that cricket in Melbourne, and Australia in general, draws devoted fans. The popularity of the Boxing Day Test may also be related to Australia’s lax outdoor lifestyle, where sports fans enjoy spending a pleasant summer day with friends watching sporting legends compete on a well-kept field.

The Boxing Day Test has seen a number of notable incidents, including umpire Darrell Hair ejecting Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in 1995 and Shane Warne taking his 700th Test wicket against England in his final MCG Test in 2006. Australia and South Africa will play each other in the 2008 Boxing Day Test from December 26 to 30.

History of the Boxing Day Test


The MCG had hosted a Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and New South Wales over the Christmas holiday since 1865, according to longstanding custom. To the dismay of the NSW players who were unable to spend Christmas with their families, as a result, it included Boxing Day as one of the scheduled days of play. Typically beginning on January 1, the Melbourne Test was held over the New Year holiday. The Melbourne Test was played from December 22 through December 27, with Boxing Day serving as the fourth day of play during the 1950–51 Ashes series. However, from 1953 until 1967, no test matches were played in Melbourne on that holiday. 

The 1974–75 Ashes series consisted of six Test matches; therefore, in order to fit them all into the overall calendar, the third Test in Melbourne was set to begin on Boxing Day. That was the beginning of the contemporary tradition, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Australian cricket team were granted the privilege to start a Test match at the MCG every Boxing Day. The Boxing Day Test is an important cultural event, frequently attracting large crowds and being an annual tradition for some. Crowd activities during the game include waves, chanting (often accompanied by trumpets or drums), and beer cup snakes/stacking.

When did the Boxing Day Cricket Match Begin?

As the fourth day of play between England and Australia fell on December 26 of that year, the Melbourne Cricket Ground hosted its first Test on Boxing Day. Boxing Day Tests were not played at the MCG from 1953 to 1967, so the tradition was unable to catch on.

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