Best Boxing Day Test moments: Warnie’s magic, Warner’s ton, AB and Thommo’s brave stand and Boland’s brilliant debut
It’s that time of year again when it’s Test cricket nirvana for fans of the traditional game and the annual MCG clash on Boxing Day.
The first Test starting on Boxing Day was way back in 1968 and after being held twice in the 1970s it became a permanent fixture on the Australian cricket calendar from 1980.
Irrespective of which team is taking on the Aussies, it is a national sporting event and around 70,000 fans are expected to click through the turnstiles on Tuesday even though inclement weather has been forecast.
Here are some of the most memorable matches since the first Boxing Day Test at the G 55 years ago.
1. Boxing Day 1968 (Australia v West Indies)
A player synonymous with the MCG, Victorian and Australian opener Bill Lawry produced 205 in his 461-minute vigil while Ian Chappell added 165 as the Aussies made 510 in reply to the West Indies’ 210. Garth McKenzie bagged 8-71 in the first innings and spinner John Gleeson took 5-61 in the second as the home side won by an innings and 30 runs.
2. Boxing Day 1975 (Australia v West Indies)
A huge crowd of 85,600-plus on Boxing Day witnessed Gary Cosier on debut for the Aussies – the local lad scored a Test century on debut with his 109 and 102 from another Victorian in Ian Redpath propelling Australia to an eight-wicket win despite a fighting second-innings ton from visiting skipper Clive Lloyd.
3. Boxing Day 1982 (Australia v England)
Australia looked gone for all money when they finished day four on 9-255 chasing a target of 292. With the gates thrown open, tens of thousands of fans turned up to see Allan Border and Jeff Thomson put on a 70-run last-wicket stand to nearly steal victory from England before the No.11 was caught at slip as Australia lost by a paltry three runs.
4. Boxing Day 1983 (Australia v Pakistan)
Victorian batter Graham Yallop smashed 29 fours on the way to his highest Test score of 268 the highest of his three double centuries that golden summer. The match ended in a draw with Pakistani opener Mohsin Khan (152) also among the runs.
5. Boxing Day 1987 (Australia v New Zealand)
Tony Dodemaide achieved the rare feat of a half-century and a five-wicket haul on debut but Richard Hadlee looked set to bowl the Kiwis to victory. Last pair Craig McDermott and Mike Whitney somehow kept him out as they salvaged a draw to secure the series win for Australia.
6. Boxing Day 1991 (Australia v India)
In one of his last meaningful contributions before injuries ended his career, Bruce Reid took 6-66 and 6-60 to destroy and Indian batting line-up featuring the likes of Ravi Shastri, a young Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Kapil Dev. His efforts set up the eight-wicket win.
7. Boxing Day 1992 (Australia v West Indies)
Remembered for the first glimpse of the flipper which took cricket by storm. Shane Warne not only cemented his spot in the Test team but showed he could be a game-changer by taking 7-52 to bowl the Windies out for 219 on the final day, ripping through skipper Richie Richardson’s defences with a perfectly placed flipper.
8. Boxing Day 1994 (Australia v England)
With the Warne legend growing, he entered Test cricket’s hat-trick club, completing the feat when David Boon snared a brilliant one-handed catch at short leg to dismiss Devon Malcolm as England were bowled out for 92, well short of their target of 388.
9. Boxing Day 1995 (Australia v Sri Lanka)
This was memorable for all the wrong reasons – umpire Darrell Hair no-balled Sir Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralidaran seven times for chucking. Sri Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga threatened to take his team from the field as Australia completed a 10-wicket triumph.
10. Boxing Day 1999 (Australia v India)
The long-awaited debut of young speedster Brett Lee did not disappoint – he ripped through the top order to take 5-47 and 2-31 and despite Sachin Tendulkar’s resistance in scoring 166 and 52, the Aussies won by 180 runs.
11. Boxing Day 2003 (Australia v India)
Ricky Ponting scored 257 to counter Virender Sehwag’s 195 as Australia rolled to a nine-wicket win over India.
12. Boxing Day 2005 (Australia v South Africa)
Michael Hussey found an unlikely ally in Glenn McGrath as he closed in on a century and they ended up making a memorable 107-run last-wicket partnership that set up a 184-run victory.
13. Boxing Day 2006 (Australia v England)
The final chapter in Warne’s love affair with his home ground. In the second last match of his international career, he bowled English opener Andrew Strauss on Boxing Day to claim his 700th Test wicket and spark scenes of jubilation in one of the most iconic moments of his glorious career.
Warne took 5-39 to set up Australia’s thrashing of the Poms by an innings and 99 runs on the way to their 5-0 series sweep.
14. Boxing Day 2010 (Australia v England)
Australian fans want to forget this one but England made amends for Warne’s domination four years earlier when they won the Ashes by an innings and 157 runs. Off-spinner Graeme Swann leading the team in a sprinkler dance in front of the jubilant Barmy Army still sends shudders down the spines of Australian fans.
15. Boxing Day 2013 (Australia v England)
Another Victorian batter who rose to the occasion at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test was unfashionable opener Chris Rogers. After holding the innings together with 61 in the first innings, he produced 116 in the second as Australia chased down the victory target of 231 for the loss of just two wickets.
16. Boxing Day 2016 (Australia v Pakistan)
A social media campaign was launched for the crowd to chant ‘Nice Garry’ as Nathan Lyon bowled. With his third ball of the match and the crowd roaring, he dismissed opener Sami Aslam to spark wild scenes on day one as the Aussies marched to an innings win on the back of tons to David Warner and Steve Smith.
17. Boxing Day 2010 (Australia v England)
Scott Boland’s brilliant debut will go down in Ashes folklore. A surprise selection, the Victorian seamer settled in with a wicket in the first innings and when he was thrown the ball in the second dig, he returned figures of 6-7 as the Poms were routed for 68 in Australia’s win by an innings and 14 runs.
18. Boxing Day 2012 (Australia v South Africas)
Warner’s Test spot was under scrutiny after a lean run and the veteran opener was facing the prospect of getting dropped but he responded in typically bullish fashion by bludgeoning the Proteas to all corners of the ground. Despite cramping up when he reached 200, he tried a trademark leap to celebrate which made his condition worse and he had to retire hurt before coming back but failing to add to his tally.