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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pongal Test; Boxing day test at Melbourne - Kallis retires - Sachin fans happy

A glimpse of Chepauk stadium … the MA Chidambaram stadium to be precise – brings in lots of memories … the famous stadium is named after  M. A. Chidambaram, the former President of BCCI and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Today is a holiday…. Boxing ~ pugilism is a combat sport – known as contest of strength, reflexes, speed and more… but can be quite nasty. 
Photo courtesy : www.dailymail.co.uk

Boxing Day perhaps has nothing to do with pugilism but traditionally the day following Christmas day when people would receive gifts from their employers known as Christmas box (not here in India) … understand that it is most popular down under; but in South Africa, Boxing day was renamed to day of Goodwill in 1994. India play South Africa at Durban tomorrow i.e., 26th Dec 2013 and down under Aussies take on battered and bruised England at Melbourne.

Here are some tests… Test No. 708 – India won by 4 wickets against England;  Test No. 752 ever remembered by that classy knock of Vishwanath; great bowling of Andy Roberts and the defeat (100 runs at that) suffered by Clive Lloyd against Pataudi led Indians in 1975; Test no. 841 Kalicharran led WI lost to Gavaskar captained India in 1979; Test no. 869 – grand Indian win against Pakistan in 1980 – Kapil Dev Man of the Match, Sandip Patil made his debut;  Test no. 1089 Vivian Richards led WI lost badly (255 runs) to Ravi Shastri led Indians – Hirwant made dream debut taking 16 wickets – WV Raman and Ajay Sharma also made their debuts….  Perhaps you would have seen all of them… the Q is what unites all these Tests among more played ?!?!?
the chepauk stadium

~ all Indian wins …. Not the only link… all Chepauk tests… and more importantly the Pongal Tests !!!...............  the ground at Chepauk has been in existence from imperial days – the first ever test here was in 1933-34 when Douglas Jardine played Ck Nayudu led team.  Crowds have always come in large numbers  ~ it is not only the numbers – they are reputed to be most knowledgeable and appreciative……….  And all the above tests took place on Pongal day……… for long Chepauk used to host Test matches on Pongal days………….

There is another long standing tradition, - the Boxing Day Test match  hosted in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia involving the Australian cricket team and an opposing national team which is touring Australia that summer. It begins annually on Boxing Day (26 December) and is played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Every four years, the Boxing Day Test forms part of the 5-match Ashes series with England.  The popularity of the Boxing Day Test also has something to do with Australia's relaxed outdoor lifestyle, which sees sports lovers appreciate a fine summer's day spent with friends watching sporting greats battle it out on a well-manicured field.

The first ever Test match involving Boxing Day took place in 1950. Prior to that, Boxing Day at the MCG had been the domain of Sheffield Shield cricket, often the highly popular Victoria-New South Wales encounters.  Many famous events have happened during the Boxing Day Test, including umpire Darrell Hair calling Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing in 1995 and Shane Warne taking his 700thTest wicket in 2006 against England in his final MCG Test. Now tomorrow, the  2013 Boxing Day Test will be held from December 26-30 between Australia and England.  1950 saw the first ever Boxing day test……… Aussie won the thriller by 28 runs.  The 2nd was against South Africa in 1952 ~ and there have been so many since…………… England is unlikely to reverse the trend of losing in the present series…………..

Sachin bowed out in style ~ Greame Swann surprised many and now comes another one……………… the news is that Jacques Kallis, one of the game's greatest allrounders, will retire from Test cricket after the Boxing Day match against India. Kallis announced his decision on the eve of the second Test against India, but stated that he would still like to play the 2015 World Cup for South Africa. In a statement, Kallis said: "It wasn't an easy decision, with Australia around the corner and the success this team is enjoying, but I feel the time is right. I don't see it as goodbye, I still have a lot of hunger to push South Africa to that World Cup in 2015 if I am fit and performing. The last two years specifically have been a memorable journey with an exceptional group of cricketers. I am fortunate enough to have ended my Test career amongst a group of talented cricketers but, more importantly, friends whom I will cherish for years to come."

Kallis has been a phenomenal all rounder and one who scores so consistently with the bat… he made his test debut against England in December 1995; has played 165 Tests, scoring 13174 runs at an average of 55.12, with 44 centuries and 58 half-centuries. He is currently fourth on the list of leading run-getters in Test cricket, and is also second on the list of batsmen with most Test centuries, apart from having scored the most runs for South Africa in Tests.

In one way, for Sachin’s fans – Kallis retirement is a thing to celebrate as it is he was the potential person to challenge his 51 test centuries… presently he has 44 in 165 tests and a couple of series against ordinary opposition could have taken him much closer.  Now the gap is enormous and far too long for anybody to bridge… after Sachin’s 51; Kallis’s 44 – it is Ponting 41; Dravid 36; Gavaskar / Lara 34; Sangakkara 33; Steve Waugh 32; Jayawardene 31 and Hayden 30 above Bradman / Chanderpaul 29. 

So Sachin (his record of max Test centuries)  would remain at the helm………. With no serious contenders to think of !!!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

25th Dec 2013.

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