Explained: Why 26th December Test is called ‘Boxing Day’ Test match
A day after Christmas, December 26 is celebrated in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth nations, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada as Boxing Day.
So what exactly is the Boxing Day?
As per one version, it refers to the alms boxes or poor boxes in churches that used to be opened the day after Christmas. Now, there are other versions which which believe that the name finds its origin to the boxes of gifts that were given to servants who had to work on Christmas Day. They were given presents the following day.
It is also the feast day of St Stephen, the patron saint of horses. For this specific reason, there are a number of sporting events which are also held on this day. In the Commonwealth nations which fall in the Souther Hemisphere, and hence, December, January, and February are summer months.
In Australia, the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) hosts the Boxing Day Test match every year from December 26 to 30 between the Australian side and any side which is on that particular tour. The first Boxing Day Test match took place between Australia and England in 1950. India has played Boxing Day Test matches in Australia in 1985, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2014, and 2018. When India tour the country once again in 2020, it will take part in the Boxing Day Test match.
Also, the Boxing Day Test matches take place in New Zealand and South Africa. This year, New Zealand is taking on Australia in Australia while South Africa take on England at Centurion.
More than 80,000 fans packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday in the largest single-day crowd for a Test match between the two nations, and one of the biggest against any country. The Boxing Day Test is the highlight of the cricket calendar in Australia and routinely attracts throngs of spectators, with the 91,112 who watched England in 2013 the record.