Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated in Australia and many other Commonwealth countries on December 26, the day after or alternatively on the next day after Christmas.
In 1950 the first ever Australian Boxing Day Test was hosted at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The tradition goes back to the middle ages with varied versions on when and how it began.
Melbourne Cricket Ground will be hosting 100th Test, when India play their first Test against Australia on Boxing Day (December 26). The first ground to host hundred Test matches was Lord’s.
Melbourne Cricket Ground established in 1854 is the biggest cricket ground in the world.
The first Test in the history of cricket was played between Australia and England at MCG on 15-3-1877.
As a spectator, I think India is not well prepared for the high pressure tour, Down Under. I’d blame the following, if Team India under-performs:
Crammed schedule will not allow the team to acclimatize with Australian conditions. BCCI should have planned only two tests with Pakistan instead of three. This would have given Team India some extra time to recuperate and get used to bouncy Australian wickets. Sachin Tendulkar speaks out
Team India does not have a regular coach till date who can lay match winning strategies against the very best in the world. Again BCCI is to be blamed for it’s myopic vision
India does not home good cricketing wickets, either. We only have the ‘batting’ wickets here. Though Indian wickets are said to be spinner friendly, the tracks are more or less flat.
Team India only has some great experience with little skill set to play at the challenging tracks in Australia. I wish this tour ends in a draw; if India loses pathetically, then it will be recorded as ‘Blunder Down Under’ in the cricketing history.
Sledging is the practice in cricket of insulting opponents to break their concentration and cause them to make mistakes. Sledging is effective because the batsman stands within hearing range of the bowler and certain fielders. The aim is to intimidate or distract the batsman into making a fatal mistake and being dismissed. Sledging thus tries to “break the flow” of the batsman’s game. There is debate in the cricketing world over whether this is poor sportsmanship or good-humoured banter.
I call this ‘Verbal Abuse’.
This is an art which the Australians are well-versed with. No sooner did they land in India for the Future Cup in 2007 than Ricky Ponting & Co. started lashing their tongues at us. The first one came from the captain himself when he said that the feat of winning the Twenty20 world cup a few weeks back was actually a history. Then during the ODIs Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden and Micheal Clarke went a little ahead by pointing their bats at the Indian bowlers.
I’m very much proud of the present generation of Indian cricketers namely, Bhajji, Sree and Robin. They subdued the kangaroos by matching them at sledging skills. Hats off to Sreesanth who showed the Australians their true class. If they want to play cricket like this then we know how to answer fire with fire.
Even before the start of Indo-Oz series 2007, Down Under, the former Australian coach, John Buchhanan, started verbal abuse by targeting Sachin Tendulkar. From the Indian camp Harbhajan retorted by saying that Brad Hogg is not good enough a spinner and stands nowhere in the likes of Warne and MacGill.
The generation of Indian cricketers has changed and along with answering the remarks thrown at them by the opponents with bat and ball, they return the same with verbal abuse as bonus.
Cricket Australia has come up with an idea to add more faces to the cricket consumer base. CA wants to play day-night test matches and believes that more people can enjoy the match after office. This will also enhance cricket’s profile among the working class, CA reckons. But I think this whole idea will only deteriorate the art of cricket. Here is how.
Cricket does not only put physical fitness to test but mental agility, as well. The fielding test captain has to be on his toes throughout the day and has to rotate his bowlers deftly and set the field according to the bowler’s speciality. One cue for the test captain to rotate bowlers is by judging the condition of the pitch and that of the ball. The older the ball, the more helpful it is for spinners and medium pace ballers, preferably those who can dexterously produce swing; and the newer the ball, the more useful it is for fast ballers who can extract bounce from the pitch combined with stinging pace.
BCCI pulled another surprise when Viru Sehwag was included in the final 16 to tour Australia this December. Mind you, he was not in the 24 probables’ list. This is indeed a good decision as Viru is the master of backfoot and quite a genius at playing cuts. He has displayed equal finesse in playing on the bouncy pitches of Australia. This could also be a moral booster for Parthiv Patel and Aakash Chopra, who were not selected despite their terrific form in domestic cricket, that if they perform they may be back in the team.
A blunder has been committed by dropping Murali Karthik, though. India need specialist spinners on the pitches of Adelaide and Sydney. Kumble and Harbhajan are good but the captain can’t replace the ace left leggy with a part time bowler.
Dinesh Karthik has been lucky to have retained his place despite a below par series with Pakistan. His place was threatened by Parthiv Patel, who is an equally competent wicket-keeper and opener batsman. Had Viru been dropped, Aakash Chopra would have definitely donned the Test cap. Better luck next time Aakash and Parthiv.
Indian pace attack has regained it’s fitness. Zaheer Khan will lead the pack. RP Singh has passed the fitness test, as well. Ishant Sharma and VRV Singh will retain their spot. Another surprise entry in the test squad against Australia has been Pankaj Singh of Rajasthan. The 22 years old, 6’5″ pacer is well suited for Australian conditions. Because of his height and bowling action he can deduce extra pace and bounce from the wickets, Down Under.
The final 16 member squad for the Australian tour which starts in Perth from December 24, 2007 is as follows:
- Anil Kumble (C)
- Mahendra Singh Dhoni (VC)
- Rahul Dravid
- Sachin Tendulkar
- Sourav Ganguly
- VVS Laxman
- Yuvraj Singh
- Virendra Sehwag
- Dinesh Karthik
- Zaheer Khan
- RP Singh
- Ishant Sharma
- Pankaj Singh
- Irfan Pathan
- Harbhajan Singh
- VRV Singh
Yuvraj Singh once again proved the selectors wrong by playing a masterly knock of 169 during the final test(08/12/2007-12/12/2007) against Pakistan at Bangalore. The southpaw last played his test against WI at Kingston in July ’06 and was regularly sidelined by the selectors because of the presence of more experienced players.
In the morning session, India were 61/4 and the damage was done by the debutant, Yasir Arafat. India’s left-hander duo, Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh scored handsome centuries to save the day for India.
Yuvi has given a strong message to the selectors and team management. Hope he is in the playing eleven of the team which plays Australia in two weeks time.
Teams India’s pace brigade is down with injuries and this is not at all good news at a time when the team is scheduled to travel Down Under and take on the world’s best side.
Zaheer Khan’s old injury has started to trouble him again after he twisted his ankle during the Kolkata test. Munaf Patel also recalled his old back injury. This has brought John Gloster’s role under scanner who declared Munaf fit before the match. Sreesanth will join Team India only after the latter has played two test matches Down Under. His bowling is tailor made for Australian conditions as he uses pace and bounce very deftly. RP Singh’s injury also poses a lot of questions before the team management.
Punjab paceman VRV Singh and Baroda medium pacer Irfan Pathan have been called for the final test against Pakistan at Bangalore. The former went wicketless in the Bengal-Punjab Ranji match but he was given preference over Pankaj Singh! This raises many fingers at the selectors. Ishant Sharma also finds a place in the list of 24 probables to tour Australia this month.