The Boxing Day Test is one of the best events on the Aussie Sporting calendar.
It’s a necessity to have the cricket on TV on December 26, the perfect addition to enjoying Christmas leftovers, gifts and the time off from work.
But on the field, it’s an occasion in which we’ve seen plenty of players and teams etch themselves into cricket folklore, and (spoiler alert!) you only have to look back as far as last year for evidence.
Let’s take a look back at ten of the best Boxing Day Test moments since the turn of the century.
Boxing Day: 11 of the best Moments
2002: Langer’s Ashes double
A Boxing Day Ashes test was the scene of Justin Langer’s second test double-ton. Sharing a huge 195-run opening stand with Matthew Hayden (102) on day one of the match, Langer blazed his way to 146 of Australia’s 3/356 at stumps on day 1.
Langer continued to pile on the pain for the Poms well into day two, sharing century partnerships with Steve Waugh (77) and Martin Love (62*) as the Aussies cruised to a massive total of 6/551.
It was a Player of the Match-worthy knock from the left-hander, his highest test score.
2003: Virender Sehwag comes oh-so-close to a Boxing Day double
In 2002, it was Justin Langer. The following year, it was Virender Sehwag who put on a batting masterclass on December 26.
In his first test series in Australia, Sehwag produced a brilliant knock of 195 at the MCG, hitting 25 fours and five sixes before he was caught in the deep searching for a maiden test double-ton.
The powerful right-hander helped India to a strong first-innings total of 366, but what was to follow would steal the show…
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2003: Ricky Ponting’s 257
Sehwag’s near double-ton had set the scene for a brilliant Boxing Day clash, and Ponting stepped up to the occasion to continue the spectacle.
Pairing with Matthew Hayden, the duo put on an enormous 234-run second-wicket stand before Hayden fell for 136, but the Aussie Vice-Captain wasn’t done yet.
Two weeks prior, Ponting had blazed his way to a test best of 242 at Adelaide, but he bested that again, compiling a brilliant 257 in an ultimately match-defining knock, leading Australia to a reply of 558.
Again alongside Hayden, Ponting finished on 31* in the second innings, guiding Australia to a nine-wicket win at the MCG.
2005: Mike Hussey’s ton and last-wicket stand on Boxing Day debut
Mike Hussey rewarded selectors immediately in the 2005-06 Summer, scoring two centuries in his debut test series against the West Indies in the 2005-06 Summer.
But the subsequent series, which included Hussey’s first Boxing Day test, was a tougher task, facing a famously fearsome South African bowling attack as Australia batted first on day one.
‘Mr Cricket’ strode to the crease with the score at 3/176, but lost skipper Ricky Ponting, and then Andrew Symonds the very next ball, with the score at 207.
Andre Nel and Makhaya Ntini continued to do damage to the Aussie tail, as Hussey quickly found himself the last recognised batter at the crease, with the Aussies 9/248 early on day two.
Putting on an unlikely 107-run stand with Glenn McGrath, Hussey turned the innings back in Australia’s favour, reaching a third test ton (122) as Australia reached a first-innings 355.
2006: Shane Warne’s 700th wicket
It’s perhaps the most iconic Boxing Day Test moment ever, and it’s certainly a fitting one as we approach the first MCG without the King of Spin.
There was perhaps no more fitting occasion, or opponent, for Warnie to reach his record 700th test wicket.
An Ashes test, on his home ground, in front of almost 90,000 eager spectators – Warne skittled Andrew Strauss with a trademark perfect leg-spinner which clean bowled the left-handed opener.
Celebration and pandemonium duly ensued, with a deafening roar engulfing the ‘G for such a special milestone.
Also fittingly, Warnie ended up with 5 wickets in the first innings, an unbeaten 40 with the bat, and another two scalps in the second innings as he was awarded Player of the Match in his second last test.
2006: Andrew Symonds’ blistering maiden ton
Another bittersweet memory, the ’06 Boxing Day Ashes test was the scene for the late Andrew Symonds’ first test ton.
The all-rounder had played 12 tests heading into the MCG clash, with two fifties to his name but an average of just 18.47.
But ‘Roy’ was the hero for the Aussies, coming to the crease at 5/84 alongside fellow Queenslander Matthew Hayden (153), as the pair added a massive 279 for the sixth wicket.
Symonds smashed his way to 156 off just 220 balls, hitting 15 fours and a glorious six which took him to three figures.
The pair’s huge partnership took Australia to a score of 419, an innings total that would prove to be enough for an innings victory.
2008: Steyn’s all-round dominance leads SA to a big win
Not many cricketers could stake a claim to 10 wickets and a 70+ score in the same test, but that’s exactly what Dale Steyn achieved in 2008.
The Proteas quick collected five wickets in Australia’s first innings, as Ricky Ponting (101) and Michael Clarke (88*) led Australia to a score of 394.
In reply, South Africa looked to be tracking for a first-innings deficit at 7/184, but JP Duminy compiled a brilliant 166 at number six, supported by handy contributions from the tail, headlined by a test high score of 76, batting at number 10, from Steyn.
The Proteas had the advantage, collecting a 65-run lead, before Steyn collected another five wickets in Australia’s second innings to restrict the hosts to 247.
But the right-armer wouldn’t be needed again with the bat in South Africa’s chase, with the visitors cruising to a 9-wicket victory in pursuit of 183, and in no surprise, Steyn was awarded Player of the Match.
2010: A Boxing Day to forget for Australia, one to remember for England
You can be forgiven as an Aussie if you’ve suppressed any memory of Boxing Day 2010.
England’s call to send Australia in paid off, with the Poms demolishing the Aussies for just 98, as James Anderson and Chris Tremlett collected four wickets apiece.
In reply, the visitors proved that there were no issues with the pitch or the conditions, building a big innings score of 513, thanks to four half-centuries and a huge knock of 168 from Jonathan Trott.
Peter Siddle was the best of the Aussies, collecting 6/75 from his 33.2 overs and adding 40 with the bat in the second innings, but it was all in vain as England edged ahead in the series with victory by an innings and 157 runs.Embed from Getty Images
2013: Chris Rogers’ Ashes ton
Recalled to the Aussie test side for the Ashes tour earlier that year, Rogers was retained in Australia’s side for the home Ashes campaign at age 36.
Having played plenty of first-class cricket for Victoria, it was fitting that Rogers was in the runs at the MCG.
He provided a lone hand in Australia’s top order in the first innings, scoring 61, before Brad Haddin added 65 from number seven to help Australia to a total of 204, 51 runs in arrears of the Poms’ first-innings score.
But after a restrictive bowling performance in the third innings which set the Aussies an uncomfortable 231 runs to win, Rogers stepped up to the task, compiling a brilliant knock of 116 to steer Australia towards victory.
2016: The “Nice, Garry” wicket!
Perhaps a unique ‘moment’, but one that will be long remembered, the 2016-17 season was the Summer of “Nice, Garry”.
After Matthew Wade’s chatty antics while ‘keeping to Nathan Lyon had developed a cult following of the phrase, Aussie fans a world record cheer of “Nice, Garry” after the off-spinner’s third ball of the match.
Though the plan was soon thrown out the window, it was perhaps the best result possible, with Lyon dismissing Pakistan opener Sami Aslam with the exact ball for which the chant was planned.
And what ensued from the crowd was pure pandemonium.
2021: “Boland’s got 6 at the ‘G!”
Boxing Day Tests seem to be the occasion for players to etch themselves into Ashes folklore, and Scott Boland is the latest member of that club.
The Victorian was a surprise debutant for last year’s MCG Ashes test, taking his first test wicket in England’s first innings of the test.
But nobody could have seen his exploits in the Poms’ second innings coming, with the right-armer taking wicket after wicket, running absolute riot to collect a remarkable 6/7 from just four overs, sinking England for just 68.
It was an incredible debut, and a performance elevating Boland to instant cult status.
Mark Howard’s commentary of Boland’s sixth will echo in many memories for a long time to come:
“Boland’s got six at the ‘G! Build the man a statue!”