‘Boxing Day Test’ could potentially be moved out of the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground this year and the prospect of it has left Australian Test captain Tim Paine worried.
India and Australia will lock horns in a four-match Test series later this year. The first Test will take place at the Gabba in Brisbane followed by a day-night Test in Adelaide and the traditional Boxing Day and New Year Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
The city of Melbourne has witnessed a recent spike in Covid-19 cases and if the situation does restore itself to normalcy, one might see the Boxing Day Test move to the Optus Stadium in Perth.
“Certainly, from a player’s point of view, we want to be playing in front of big crowds at the best venues and a big day like Boxing Day is something that everyone looks forward to and a big part of that is playing at the MCG,” Tim Paine said in a video message on cricket.com.au.
“Fingers crossed things are going well enough that we can do that but, as I said, we are spoilt for choice here in Australia with some world-class stadiums. If something had to change, then, again, we have plenty of options.” he added.
Melbourne Cricket Ground has hosted Boxing Day Test in Australia since 1950
26 December is celebrated as ‘Boxing Day’ in Southern Hemisphere countries and a plethora of sporting events are staged to mark the occasion.
In Australia, the Boxing Day Test is played at the MCG every year, where close to 90000 people throng to the stadium, making it one of the marquee events of the summer. The first Boxing Day Test in Australia was played between England and the home side at the MCG in 1950.
“Given the current circumstances, I dare say everything is well and truly on the table. We are hopeful that everywhere we play come summertime, we would be able to have crowds. How big they are, we don’t know, obviously. But it’s a difficult one for anyone to answer because there is so much changing week to week, day to day.” Tim Paine added.
India has played Boxing Day Tests in Melbourne in 1985, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2014, and 2018. The last outing at the ‘G was a memorable one for the Men in Blue as they shellacked Tim Paine-led Australia by 137 runs to take a series-defining lead in the four-match rubber.