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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Boxing Day test at Melbourne

Millions of Britons enjoyed a last hurrah in the Boxing Day sales with determined shoppers camping out in the early hours to secure the best bargains although crowds were smaller than in previous years. Reports suggest that shoppers started queuing outside branches of high street chain Next at 12.30am while on Oxford Street, in London a crowd started forming outside Selfridges at 2.30am. However, retail experts said that overall shopper numbers were significantly down on 2016.

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.  Thurman (WBA and WBC champion) has inherited the title of unofficial king of the welterweights after Floyd Mayweather Jr's retirement. However, many with respected opinions will tell you that Spence (IBF champion) is the best fighter currently competing in the weight class. The talk of a Thurman-Spence fight has already begun, but Thurman believes the banter needs to continue for a while longer to allow the bout to become a bigger, more anticipated event.

A boxing champion who has represented England six times has been arrested and locked in an immigration detention centre, pending deportation to Nigeria, a country that has said it won’t allow him to live there as he is not a citizen. Kelvin Fawaz, London’s current middleweight boxing champion, has been in the UK for 15 years, since he was a child. He is a gifted amateur boxer whom Team GBwanted to represent Britain in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, writing twice to the Home Office on his behalf.

At MCG, England debutant Tom Curran described his near-miss of a first Test wicket as 'the worst feeling I've had' after opener David Warner enjoyed an outrageous moment of good fortune in the fourth Ashes Test. Warner failed a patience test on 99 when, faced with a seven-two off-side field to stifle his scoring, he mistimed a shovel-pull off Curran for a simple catch to mid-on. But, as the combative opener trudged off, television replays showed the seamer had overstepped for a no-ball from round the wicket, and he returned to clip the very next delivery off his hip for three-figures - having hit 13 fours and a six from 130 balls.

On day 2 this morning,  England  fought back admirably on the second day at the MCG, where debutant Tom Curran denied Steven Smith a century and Australia lost  wickets to fold at 327.  At lunch,  Pat Cummins was on 4 and Josh Hazlewood was yet to score, and the Australians were on 8 for 326, having added 82 to their overnight total.  An MCG crowd that ultimately swelled to 88,172 were still settling into their seats, or bar-side perches, when Warner and Cameron Bancroft walked to the middle after Smith had won his first toss of the series. As if to underline his aggressive intent, Warner waited only until his second ball to throw his hands at a James Anderson delivery angled across him, sending an airy forcing shot into the ground's cavernous outfield for three runs. David Warner has joined the elite 6000 test runs club in  129 Innings - the joint-fourth fastest Australian batsman to achieve this feat. Don Bradman (68), Ricky Ponting (125), Mathew Hayden (126) and Greg Chappell (129) are the others on the list. Warner also scored his 21st century in Tests, 15 of which have come at home. Warner now has consecutive centuries at the MCG, having scored just one fifty from nine innings from 2011 to 2015.

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. Aussies are taking  on battered and bruised England at Melbourne now.

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 700th Test wicket in 2006 against England in his final MCG Test.  Bruised in the present series, and down 0-3, England is unlikely to reverse the trend of losing in the present series…………..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Dec 2017.

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