What is Boxing Day Test? Why does it start on 26th December? Know here

Image Source : GETTY Melbourne Cricket Ground.

India, South Africa, Australia and Pakistan are gearing up for their Boxing day Tests as 26th December is a little away from now. While India will take on South Africa to start a two-match Test series, Australia and Pakistan will lock horns in the second Test of the three-match series on December 26. But what is the Boxing Day Test?

Boxing Day Test is a Test match played annually on the next day of Christmas i.e. on December 26. The match is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia and it starts on December 26, after Christmas. However, it also takes place in other parts of the world too. The start of the match coincides with Boxing day, which is celebrated on December 26. 

Why is Boxing Day celebrated on December 26?

The Boxing Day is celebrated one day after Christmas. The day is observed in the United Kingdom and other countries which were once part of the British Empire. They include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria, Trinidad and Tobago, and South Africa, among others. 

There is a theory about the origin of the day. It is said that under Queen Victoria’s rule in the 1800s, servants of lower British society were rewarded with hand-picked gifts from their masters during the Christmas season. The gifts given were said to be ‘Christmas Box’. The day then began to be said as ‘Boxing Day’.

The tradition spread from an English church. Poor people were given boxes, which were opened in Churches after the Christmas festival. 

What is the history of Boxing Day Tests?

The Boxing Day cricket marks its origin in 1892. That year, the MCG hosted a Sheffield Shield game which then led to a tradition of hosting clashes between Victoria and New South Wales during the Christmas period. However, the first International Boxing Day Test at the ‘G’ was held in 1952 between England and Australia. But that Test did not start as we see in current times on December 26. Instead, it started on December 22 and had a two-day break before resuming on December 26.

The first Test match to start on Boxing Day happened in 1968 when West Indies toured Australia. From 1980 onwards, Australia hosts a Boxing Day Test every year, starting from December 26. Only thrice the Test has started before Christmas and resumed after it – in 1984, 1988 and 1994.  However, in 1989, Australia played an ODI game against Sri Lanka and the traditional Test was not held.

While Melbourne hosts the Boxing Day Tests every year now, nations like South Africa and New Zealand also host the traditional contest on this day.

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