The Boxing Day Test has become an annual fixture on the Australian cricket calendar with some memorable matches over the years.
Australia vs West Indies, 1981
In one of the knocks of his career, Kim Hughes stared down a West Indies pace battery led by Andy Roberts and Michael Holding to rescue Australia from 3-8, hitting an unbeaten 100 before the hosts were bowled out for 198. Legendary quick Dennis Lillee then ripped through the Windies with 7-83 including his famous last ball of the day dismissal of Viv Richards. Eventually set 220 for victory, the Windies collapsed from 3-80 to be dismissed for 161 as Australia won by 58 runs, ending the visitors’ 15-Test unbeaten run.
Australia vs England, 1982
Set 292 to win, Australia were staring down the barrel when they slumped to 9-218. A quick kill for the visitors appeared imminent with an out-of-sorts Allan Border – under enormous pressure to retain his spot – and notorious bunny Jeff Thomson left at the crease. What unfolded next will go down in Ashes folklore. With Border expertly rotating the strike, the pair put on 70 as Australia dared to dream of a cricket miracle. Yet with three runs left to pull off a stunning victory, the great Ian Botham had a heartbroken Thomson caught behind for 21 by a juggling Geoff Miller. Border remained unconquered on 62 as the delirious visitors went into party mode.
Australia vs New Zealand, 1987
The hosts had no answer to Richard Hadlee in the 1985-86 summer when the New Zealand great took 33 wickets in three Tests to secure the Kiwis’ first series win on Australian soil.
(Simon Bruty /Allsport)
Yet they found one in the most unlikely of heroes in this Boxing Day heart-stopper – tailenders Michael Whitney and Craig McDermott. Hadlee again looked set to emerge as the hero when he took ten wickets for the match as Australia slumped from 5-209 to 9-227 after being set 247 to win. With the crowd cheering every dot ball, somehow Whitney and McDermott survived as Hadlee threw the kitchen sink at them in the remaining 4.5 overs to ensure a draw and protect Australia’s 1-0 series lead.
Australia vs West Indies, 1992
Shane Warne would go on to have many fond Boxing Day Test memories but this is where his legend was born. The all-conquering Windies looked set to at least secure a draw when they cruised to 1-143 after being set 359 to win by Australia. Captain Richie Richardson in particular, donning his trademark wide-brimmed hat, looked in total control on 52. Enter Warne. In what remains one of his favourite dismissals, Warne bowled Richardson with a classic flipper before ripping through the visitors, taking 7-52 as Australia claimed a 139-run win. Warne’s 1994-95 hat-trick and 700th scalp in 2006 in Melbourne were also memorable but his 1992 heroics started it all for the legendary leg-spinner.
Australia vs England, 2013
The Boxing Day Test was England’s to lose when they cruised to 0-54 in their second dig with an overall lead of 105. However, fearsome left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson sparked a collapse of three wickets for one run before England were bowled out for 179, remarkably losing their last five wickets for just six runs as off-spinner Nathan Lyon took 5-50. Set 231 for victory, opener Chris Rogers’ 116 steered Australia to a crushing eight-wicket win. The hosts went on to claim a 5-0 series sweep, gaining sweet revenge after their 3-0 loss earlier that year in England.
Australia vs Pakistan, 2016
Defeat would have been the last thing on Pakistan’s mind after opener Azhar Ali’s unbeaten 205 steered the visitors to an imposing 9-443 declared in their first dig. Then Steve Smith and David Warner happened. Smith top scored with 165 not out while Warner thrashed 144 off 143 balls as Australia finally declared at 8-624. Still buzzing from his quick-fire 84 with the bat, left-arm quick Mitchell Starc claimed 4-36 as Pakistan were routed for 163 in 53.2 overs as the hosts secured victory by an innings and 18 runs.
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