What Is Boxing Day Test in Cricket? – Its Name and Meaning Explained

We all enjoy a nice rest on Christmas Day and, fortunately, we don’t have long to wait until the cricket action begins again with the Boxing Day test.

What Does Boxing Day Test Mean in Cricket?

The Boxing Day Test is a test match that begins on Boxing Day, 26th of December. A number of countries around the world host cricket matches on this day but we are specifically referring to Australia, where the Australian Cricket Team plays against the visiting team. It is the oldest Boxing Day test in the history of the game and it is traditionally held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Boxing Day Test Match

It was a tradition that first class cricket was played at the MCG long before the advent of test cricket. The 26th of September saw regular state games take place between Victoria and New South Wales dating back to 1865.

Test cricket began in 1877 but it would be even later that a Boxing Day test match first appeared.

The iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground

The First Boxing Day Test Match

Test cricket was first played on Boxing Day in the 1950/51 Ashes Series when the Melbourne Test was held between the 22nd and 27th of December. A Christmas break followed between 1953 and 1967 before this practice started up again.

The first instance of a test match starting on Boxing Day came in 1974. England were the visitors for another Ashes Tour and six tests were scheduled. In order to accommodate those six games, it was agreed that the Melbourne Test should start on December 26th.

This was the first Boxing Day match in the sense that the match actually began on December 26th. From 1980 onwards, it was agreed that Boxing Day tests would become an annual event.

How Many Times Have Australia Won?

Using statistics from that Boxing Day test between Australia and England back in 1974, there have been 42 games, up to and including the test versus India in 2020. Of those 42 tests, Australia have won 23 games. The opposing national team have won nine boxing day tests and there have been ten draws.

Australia’s most successful period came between 1999 and 2007 when they won each Boxing Day test matches for nine years in succession, starting in the 1999 Boxing Day match when Brett Lee become the first man to take five wickets on test debut for Australia since Dennis Lillee.

The most successful visiting side up to 2020 are England who had won the Boxing Day match on four occasions between 1982 and 2010.


Notable Boxing Day Test Matches

Perhaps the most memorable Boxing Day test was played against England in 1982. Coming into the final day, the tourists looked set to win comfortably before a last wicket stand of 70 between Allan Border and Jeff Thomson almost handed the game to Australia.

Eventually, Thomson was caught in the slips and England’s winning margin of just three runs is the narrowest in a Boxing Day match.

In contrast, Australia’s biggest win in this game came forty years later in the Boxing Day match of 2021. Sri Lanka were the visiting opponents and the visitors would lose by the huge margin of an innings and 201 runs.

Australia’s solitary total of 460 wasn’t especially formidable but it was far too much for the Sri Lankans who were bundled out for just 156 and 103.

Australia’s heaviest defeat in a Boxing Day test match came in 2010 when England won by an innings and 157 runs. Jonathan Trott was the highest individual scorer, making 168 out of England’s team total of 513.