0Australia Boxing Clever

Eng­lish win­ters are a ter­rible thing. Cold and wet, the sea­son also means no home crick­et whatsoever.

Christ­mas is one shin­ing light in the fog of the cold and to add to this the thought of an annu­al test match that starts on Box­ing Day and usu­ally held under blue skies and warm tem­per­at­ures is one that stirs the ima­gin­a­tion and one that I will raise a cold beer to.

Box­ing Day tests have been held every year since 1980 (except 1989 when a one day match vs Sri Lanka was played instead (boo – ed) and at the Mel­bourne Crick­et Club in Aus­tralia – aka the MCG). They have also been dom­in­ated by some massive crowds (which have approached six fig­ures on occasion).

So with the weath­er out­side truly fright­ful I’ve taken the oppor­tun­ity to have a look back at a few recent(ish) games to see how teams have fared against their Anti­podean hosts.

Sri Lanka were the vis­it­ors last year and were simply blown away. Mitchell John­son was the chief des­troy­er back then (ring any bells), tak­ing four wick­ets and hit­ting an unbeaten 92. Clarke hit a ton in what was an excel­lent year for him and Shane Wat­son and Dav­id Warner hit use­ful half cen­tur­ies. The hosts’ first innings total of 460 was far too much for Sri Lanka to handle, Kumar Sangakkara com­fort­ably top scor­ing across both their innings with 58. Vic­tory to Aus­tralia by an innings and 201 runs.

Bat­ting col­lapses from both teams (India were the vis­it­ors) dom­in­ated the 2011 game. Ed Cow­an on debut opened for the Aus­sies and hit a half cen­tury as did Ricky Pont­ing. For the vis­it­ors the erstwhile trio of Sachin Ten­dulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag (over 450 test matches and more than 37,000 test runs between them) all scored over 50. With hon­ours almost even after the first two innings Australia’s top order col­lapsed but were pulled back from the brink thanks to mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tions from Ricky Pont­ing and in par­tic­u­lar Michael Hus­sey. Second innings res­ist­ance by the Indi­ans was futile; James Pattin­son did the major­ity of the dam­age with a four wick­et haul. Com­fort­able vic­tory for Australia.

Eng­land made a far bet­ter fist of things then they are doing presently when they turned up in 2010. They gave the Aus­sies a crick­et­ing les­son, with Jimmy Ander­son and Chris Trem­lett tear­ing though the host’s in their first innings – who were bowled out for less than 100. Eng­land then turned the screws in uncom­prom­ising style, clob­ber­ing them for over 500 with Jonath­an Trott hit­ting a massive cen­tury and Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss and Matt Pri­or all mak­ing sig­ni­fic­ant con­tri­bu­tions. Aus­tralia fared little bet­ter second time around (Tim Bresnan the chief des­troy­er) and Eng­land ran out vic­tors by an innings and more.

Before that Aus­tralia gave Pakistan a good old-fash­ioned twonk­ing in 2009 with an all-round team effort with all the bats­men scor­ing runs and all the bowl­ers tak­ing wickets.

So that leads me on nicely to this year’s encounter. Per­haps fit­tingly for the 26th Decem­ber, Eng­land suffered yet anoth­er suck­er punch as the vis­it­ors flattered to deceive. Eng­land actu­ally man­aged to fash­ion a handy lead after the first innings but back came the usu­al frailties to haunt them. Some of the bat­ting was simply idi­ot­ic. Ex-open­er and suc­cess­ful Ashes cap­tain Michael Vaughan had some extremely strong words for his former charges. Too right. It’s not been good enough all series – a lot of play­ers have let a lot of people down this series – will this defeat deliv­er the fatal knock out punch to Eng­land – or will they pull them­selves up from the can­vas and deliv­er a belated Christ­mas present to the much suf­fer­ing fans?

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