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What is a Boxing Day Test? Know the Significance, History and India’s Record

A day after Christmas every year, December 26, is celebrated as Boxing Day in a few Commonwealth Nations. This includes the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, where cricket is popular. We have often heard the term ‘Boxing Day Test‘, and there is a lot of hullaballoo around this. But what exactly is Boxing Day, and what is the significance of the Boxing Day Test?

Results of the Last 10 Boxing Day Test Matches

2020IndiaIndia won by 8 wickets
2019New ZealandAustralia won by 247 runs
2018IndiaIndia won by 137 runs
2016PakistanAustralia won by an innings and 18 runs
2015West IndiesAustralia won by 177 runs
2013EnglandAustralia won by 8 wickets
2012Sri LankaAustralia won by an innings and 201 runs
2011IndiaAustralia won by 122 runs

What is Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is a public bank holiday in the UK, with stores offering several offers to shoppers. This is similar to Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. Boxing Day got its name during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 1800s, and contrary to what most people assume, the day has no connection to the sport of boxing.

There are many theories around why the day is called Boxing Day. As per one theory, the name refers to charity drives, wherein the rich gifted ‘boxes’ of gifts to the poor on Christmas. Servants were given a day off on Boxing Day and received special Christmas boxes from their employers. 

As per another theory along similar lines, the churches would collect money from visitors as part of a donation drive. This money would be stored in a box and opened only on Christmas. On Boxing Day, the money was handed out to the poor. 

The day also holds religious significance. December 26 is celebrated as the feast day of St Stephen, the patron saint of horses. Several sporting events are held on this day. 

In Australia, the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) hosts the Boxing Day Test match every year from December 26 to 30. Test matches are also played in New Zealand and South Africa. The first Boxing Day Test match took place between Australia and England in the 1950 Ashes Series. However, that game was played from December 22 to 27, with the fourth day’s play falling on Boxing Day. 

It was not until 1980 that the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Australian cricket team secured the rights to kickstart a Test match each year on Boxing Day at the MCG. 

India in Boxing Day Matches in Australia 

India has played Boxing Day Test matches in Australia in 1985, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2018 and 2020. The match against South Africa, beginning on December 26, 2021, will be India’s 10th Boxing Day Test. 

1985DrawKapil Dev
1991Australia won by 8 wicketsMohamad Azharuddin
1999Australia won by 180 runsSachin Tendulkar
2003Australia won by 9 wicketsSourav Ganguly
2007Australia won by 337 runsAnil Kumble
2011Australia won by 122 runsMS Dhoni
2014DrawMS Dhoni
2018India won by 137 runsVirat Kohli
2020India won by 8 wicketsVirat Kohli

Boxing Day Matches Statistics

Batting records 

Gary Kirsten’s 275 against England in Durban in 1999 is the highest-individual score in the history of Boxing Day Tests. The match was drawn. Meanwhile, most runs in Boxing Day Tests have been scored by Steve Waugh. The former Australia captain played 28 innings, scoring 1261 runs at an average of 57.31. This includes three centuries. 

Additionally, India’s Boxing Day centurions are Sachin Tendulkar (116 in 1999), Virender Sehwag (195 in 2003), Virat Kohli (169 in 2014) Ajinkya Rahane (147 in 2014 & 112 in 2020), Cheteshwar Pujara (104* in 2018).

Bowling records 

Sydney Barnes holds the record for the best bowling figures in Boxing Day Tests. The former Australia pacer registered 9/103 against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1961. Shane Warne has returned the most wickets in Boxing Day Tests. The spin wizard took 43 wickets in nine matches, including two five-wicket hauls. 

Boxing Day Matches in 2021

Two Boxing Day Tests will be played in 2021. England and Australia will face off at the MCG, while India will play South Africa at the Centurion. The game in Australia will be played in front of a crowd, but the latter will be played behind closed doors. 

India is currently in South Africa for three Tests and as many ODIs starting December 26. The visitors are yet to win a Test series in South Africa and will be looking to end the drought this time around. The last time the Virat Kohli-led Indian Test team played in South Africa, they managed just one win in three games. 

India first played a Boxing Day Test match in South Africa in 1992, which was won by the hosts by 9 wickets with help from Allan Donald’s 12 wickets. In all, the two sides have played five Boxing Day Test matches in South Africa, of which the hosts have won four except the 2010 match. 

Boxing Day Test: India’s Tour of South Africa

Shubman Gill, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and vice-captain Rohit Sharma are injured. They will thus be missing in action in the 2021 Boxing Day Test. In Gill’s absence, Hanuma Vihari has been recalled after he churned out some impressive performances on the recently-concluded India’ A’ tour of South Africa. Shreyas Iyer, who made a sensational debut against New Zealand, has retained his place in the side, while KL Rahul is also returning after recovering from the injury he sustained last month. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami, who skipped the New Zealand series to take a break, are also back in the squad. 

Squad: Virat Kohli (Capt), Rohit Sharma(vc), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant(wk), Wriddhiman Saha(wk), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj.

Standby Players: Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla

Also Read: Which Batsman Holds the Record for the Fastest Century in ODI cricket?

Ashish Pant
A fantasy gaming enthusiast, gaming writer and an out and out cricket nerd. I am an engineer by education who found his solace in writing.


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