Three International matches are scheduled to be played on Boxing Day, i.e., 26th of December. India will take on Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Victoria while their arch-rivals Pakistan are scheduled to take on South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Further, New Zealand also hosts Sri Lanka on the very same day at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
So ever wondered why there are planned matches held around the globe on the very same day? Well, we might have the answer for you.
What is a Boxing Day?
Boxing Day is the day after Christmas that falls on December 26. It originated in the United Kingdom and is since celebrated in a number of countries that were formerly a part of the British Empire. Traditionally, it was a day when the employers distributed gifts such as money, food, clothes, etc. to their employees.
Boxing Day Tests
Traditionally in Australia, and now even in South Africa and New Zealand, Boxing Day test matches are held every year.
In Australia, these Test matches are historically held every year at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In 1892, the stadium hosted a domestic Sheffield Shield first-class match between Victoria and New South Wales which resumed a custom of these Christmas period clashes.
It was only in 1950, however, that the First International Boxing Day Test Match was held at the MCG, which commenced on 22nd December 1950. After this test, only seven more tests were held on Boxing Day before 1980, four in Melbourne (1952, 1968, 1974, and 1975) while other three were held in Adelaide (1967, 1972, and 1976).
It was only in 1980 that the Boxing Day Test became an annual affair as New Zealand played the Baggy Greens at MCG, although in 1989 a One Day International was contested on the same day against the touring Sri Lankan side.
In New Zealand, earlier an annual Boxing Day Test Match was played at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, involving the home side and the touring side. However, over the years, the Boxing Day Test has been phased out for a much more commercial attractive option of a One Day International or a Twenty20 International involving the Kiwis and a touring side. Since 2014, however, Boxing Day Tests in New Zealand have returned that is now played mostly at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
In South Africa, Boxing Day Tests were initially held between the Proteas and a visiting side at the Kingsmead Stadium, Durban. However, the Boxing Day Test Match in 2017 was held at St. George’s Park, Port Elizabeth, and this year the Boxing Day Test is being held at SuperSport Park, Centurion.
Now I hope, you will be clear that the Boxing Day Test Match has nothing to do with a boxing match but is rather a day after Christmas where employers distribute gifts to their employees, and since it is a public holiday in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, thus cricket matches are conducted in these countries which aids to a huge crowd attendance.
Cover image credits: ExperienceOz