Looking back at the 1981 Boxing Day Test

Jason Cave Roar Rookie

By Jason Cave, Jason Cave is a Roar Rookie

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16 Have your say

    Whenever great Test matches are talked about, the 1981 Boxing Day Test at the MCG between Australia and the West Indies always gets a mention.

    Australia under Greg Chappell won the toss and decided to bat on a dicey pitch. The West Indies had at its disposal probably one of the best pace attacks of all time-Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.

    Within half an hour, Australia were 4/25-including skipper Chappell who was going through a very lean period with the bat, dismissed for his fourth successive duck.

    Kim Hughes stepped up to the mark and made possibly one of the all-time great 100s, making 100 off 198. Michael Holding took five wickets for the West Indies.

    Little did the 50,000 crowd, and millions more watching on Nine (in captial cities, including Melbourne, who joined the live telecast after tea) and ABC TV and radio (in regional and country areas around Australia) know what was in store for them with 30 minutes of the day’s play remaining.

    Dennis Lillee and Terry Alderman ripped through the West Indies top order to have the West Indies reeling at 4/10, including Viv Richards bowled Lillee on the last ball of the day.

    The following day Lillee broke Lance Gibbs’ world record for most Test wickets when Greg Chappell took the catch off Larry Gomes. Lillee racked up 7/83 and 3/44 in the game.

    Australia ended up winning the match by 58 runs, with Kim Hughes Man of the Match.

    What do you remember about the Boxing Day Test 1981?

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • November 13th 2010 @ 10:23am
      Tony said | November 13th 2010 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      I remember I don’t remember it. Up in the Pilbara there was a TV blackout for a couple of seasons from the end of WSC until Nine & the ABC worked out a sharing arrangement for telecasting Test cricket outside of Nine’s braodcast areas.

    • November 13th 2010 @ 11:06am
      Joe FC said | November 13th 2010 @ 11:06am | ! Report

      If my memory serves me right Jason Lillee’s final delivery was a full toss that Richard’s, in taking a big swing, edged onto his stumps. The noise from the raucous crowd was unbelievable.

      • November 13th 2010 @ 11:52am
        Tony said | November 13th 2010 @ 11:52am | ! Report


        A friend of mine who was at the match says that the crowd were still chanting “Lillee! Lillee!” half an hour after stumps. Will this year’s Boxing Day crowd be chanting “Mitchy! Mitchy!” half an hour after stumps?

        • November 13th 2010 @ 3:40pm
          Joe FC said | November 13th 2010 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

          The heart hopes so Tony but the head thinks otherwise.

    • November 13th 2010 @ 12:08pm
      apaway said | November 13th 2010 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

      I watched parts of the first day on TV at a post Xmas BBQ. A mate and I then drove up the North Coast the next day, arriving in Grafton in time to see Lillee break the wicket-taking record. Funny thing is, I saw this on ABC TV, and the camera view was from behind the wicket-keeper, while the Nine coverage, repeated often ever since, is from behind the bowler. I do recall Richie Benaud went nuts when Lillee got the wicket, which was so unusual given his quiet commentary demeanour.

    • November 13th 2010 @ 1:23pm
      Jason Cave said | November 13th 2010 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

      Here’s how Richie Benaud described Dennis Lillee breaking the wicket taking record:

      ‘Greg Chappell has got it! That is the record, the wicket taking Test match record! What a performance from the great fast bowler.’

      And also Tony Greig calling the last ball of the day:

      ‘He’s bowled him! Lillee bowled Richards out on the last ball of the day! Well what a magnificent start for Australia, the West Indies 4/10.’

    • November 13th 2010 @ 5:59pm
      sheek said | November 13th 2010 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

      Thanks Jason,

      Great memories. I recall seeing it all on TV, back in the days when I watched most sessions of most tests…..

    • November 14th 2010 @ 3:50pm
      chris mackinnon said | November 14th 2010 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

      great test match, great players from both teams, great game saving hundred by hughes, australia where rocked by the west indies early in the first innings if u get the chance to watch the game great game to watch

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