Boxing Day Test set to remain in Melbourne
The Victorian Government and Cricket Australia are close to a new deal to keep the iconic Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground into the future.
Huge crowds have again attended the marquee Test match of the Australian summer. 80,473 fans packed the MCG for day 1 of Australia v New Zealand – the second-largest non-Ashes crowd, and 59,676 fans rolled up for day 2 – the largest day 2 non-Ashes crowd.
The day 3 attendance ended up at 43,603 and almost 20,000 were on hand on day 4 to see the Aussies win, meaning the total crowd was 203,472 over the four days. The crowds have been bolstered by around 15,000 Kiwi supporters, with their team playing on Boxing Day at the ‘G for the first time in 32 years.
The big crowds have seen calls for a long-term deal to be secured to keep the match in Melbourne, with the current deal due to expire at the end of this summer. The MCG has hosted the match every year since 1980.
The MCG pitch has been criticised in recent years for producing boring matches, while a recent Sheffield Shield match was abandoned due to a dangerous wicket, sparking calls for the Boxing Day Test to be moved elsewhere.
Perth had launched an audacious bid to lure the Boxing Day Test to the West, however that has all but been shut down. Just 65,540 fans attended the recent 1st Test against New Zealand at the 60,000-capacity Optus Stadium over four days.
Australia went into the match against the Kiwi's as clear favourites with sports betting agencies and they had taken control of the content in the early stages. Like any other casino game requiring skills, it takes a considerable amount of time to master the art of betting on sports successfully in the long run.
Thankfully, the MCG wicket has been a good one in the first few days, as Australia has taken control of the contest. Veteran cricket curator Les Burdett has overseen the wicket, which had the concrete slab underneath it removed prior to this summer.
Sports Minister Martin Pakula said talks between Cricket Australia, the MCC and Government were “progressing well” with “no reason for concerns about the future of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.”
“Traditions matter and Boxing Day at the G is a tradition which now stretches over 40 years,” he said.
“But beyond that Victorians turn up to Test cricket in a way not replicated anywhere else in the country and the crowds at Boxing Day are vital to the health of cricket in this country.”
Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts said the MCG Test sat alongside Lord’s as the most iconic in the sport.
“Given the importance of the MCG Test to world cricket, I would like to think it will remain here in perpetuity,” he said.
He said a major part of any new Melbourne contract must include fan friendly activations in Yarra Park outside the MCG.
While Tests in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth have been played as day/night matches, tradition has remained in Melbourne as a day-time match, but some have called for it to evolve into a pink-ball test, including Shane Warne.
India will tour Australia next summer, with the Ashes against England in the summer of 2022/23.