Boxing Day Tests. No, it does include players boxing around the field but has a significant importance to the cricketing fans in some countries like Australia and South Africa. Boxing Day is celebrated a day after Christmas, that is 26th December and the Test matches played on that date fall under the prestigious category of ‘The Boxing Day Test’.
Like the other years, 2015 is coming to an end, which also brings the cricket fanatics close to the Boxing Day Tests. This time, it’s going to be two matches starting simultaneously. Australians would be going up against West Indies for the 2nd Test in their series. The visitors have had a disaster of a match in the 1st one and would be looking to turn the tables in the 2nd Test. While, far west of the island continent, South Africa have their match against England. After suffering a huge loss in the Indian subcontinent, South Africa would look to have a fresh start, while even Englishmen would want to win the match considering even they lost their last Test series against Pakistan.
We’ve seen some historic matches that have been played in the past. With the current Boxing Day Tests still a few days away, let’s have a look at the Top 5 amazing contests between world-class teams played on the Boxing Day itself –
5. South Africa vs Australia, Melbourne, 24th December 1952
Trailing 1-0 in the 5-match series, South Africa desperately wanted a win to level things between the two teams. Playing at the world-famous MCG, South Africa chose to bat. Shaky start from South Africa wasn’t expected as they were reduced to 27/3. The middle and lower order contributed in some amounts to somehow reach a par score of 227/10. Confident of taking a huge lead, Australia started with a bang. Both openers stayed strong at the crease as Australia were 155/3 and were looking to bypass the trail-target in no time. South Africa strike chaos as they removed the remainder wickets by just 243 runs. Conceding a lead of just 16 runs, South Africa managed to pull-off a huge total of 388 runs, courtesy – W Endean’s 162 n.o. The visiting team’s bowlers took some early wickets and reduced the Aussies to 76/3. The home team’s batsmen could crack the bowlers’ code and they kept losing wicket and tumbled to 290 all out. South Africa won the match convincingly by 82 runs.
4. South Africa vs England, Johannesburg, 24th December 1930
South Africa faltered to a first innings collapse by making just 126 runs as their team total. Interesting point – England used only 3 bowlers in total and all of them chucked South African wickets out regularly. Having a great advantage of a low total, England failed to make the most of it as they themselves crashed down to just 193 runs. With 56 runs behind, South Africa went out in full force and with equal and solid contributions from majority of batsmen, they managed to put up a target of 240 runs for the visiting team to chase. Hammond (63) and Turnbull (61) were the only ones to score 30 plus runs as England failed to cross the winning line by just 28 runs.
3. Australia vs England, Melbourne, 22nd December 1950
This cracker of a match was all about bowlers as only two half-centuries were attained in this match. Losing their fifth wicket at 177, Australia collapsed to the English bowling attack. Adding just 17 more runs, they lost their remaining 5 wickets, scoreboard showing 194 for England to trail. Determined to impress with the bat also, England managed to reach 197, just a 3-run lead, following a top-order collapse. Australian batsmen started off well but their batsmen failed to convert their starts to high scores as they again were bowled out for mere 181 runs. With a chance of clear victory staring right upon the Englishmen, they made a huge blunder out of their batting department. With most of their players returning to the pavilion with single digit scores, England tumbled at 150 runs, losing the match they should have won by 28 runs.
2. Australia vs England, Melbourne, 26th December 1998
Melbourne has been the home for one of the best Tests played and this was no other. Stewart’s century helped England reach 270 runs in their first innings. Steve Waugh remained unbeaten at 122 to give a string reply by putting up 340 runs, leading England by 70 runs. Half-centuries from Stewart, Hussain and Hick saw England scoring big as they were bowled out for 244 runs. Not forgetting the 70 run lead Australia had, the home team needed just 175 runs in their second innings to win the 4th Test. Starting the proceedings well, Australia were 103/3. The middle-order and lower order failed to score even over 10 runs as they were left beaten at 162/10, winning the thrilling match by a margin of just 12 runs.
1. Australia vs England, Melbourne, 26th December 1982
One of the closest matches played on Boxing Day, the margin by which the team won was just 3 runs. Asking England to bat, the visiting team put up a respectable total of 284 all out in their first innings. Eager to not disappoint the home crowd, Australia gave a decent reply as their margin of lead taken was of just 3 runs. Healthy contributions from the openers and lower order batsmen meant England again piled up a mountain of runs for the Aussies to climb. Posting a total of 294 runs, they asked Australia to score 292 runs to give their home crowd, the result they came for. Although no batsman scored a century here, Australia steadily climbed the ladder for their win but kept losing wickets. With just one wicket in hand, Australia needed to score 74 runs. It would have been a historic moment for the Australians had they pulled this one off, but unfortunately the home team lost their final wicket at 288 runs, losing the match by just 3 runs! What a match!