Boxing Day Test match on 26th December is always a special occasion to be part of specially in the commonwealth countries. Generally, in England or India or any other country, it feels different to celebrate Christmas whereas in Australia or so on; even though they were spending times with their loved ones and family, back of their mind, they knew there would a Test match and they were 2-0 behind going into it.
The atmosphere as one can expect is buzzing. Sometimes, as a batter, when got dismissed, you can’t really figure out which end you should head to for the dressing room.
Day 1: Another Flimsy England Batting Show on Boxing Day:
England captain Joe Root did speak with a bit anger in the last match and asked his batsman to take responsibility and more motivation being on the edge of the river. They decided to bring back Mark Wood and Leach along with Bairstow and Crawley with no games with their belt. The home side handed debut cap to home boy Scot Boland as regular captain Cummins on returned winning the toss elected to bowl on a green Melbourne track.
The teams got changed but not form as again they found themselves two down in the first half an hour and eventually lost Malan just before Lunch. Root batted again sensibly untill reaching his 9th fifty in Australia and then played a non-sense shot to head back to the hut. In the same fashion, Ben Stokes provided another shock to English fans. The moment, Stokes got out, one could see the Aussie openers preparing to come out batting with the opposition being 115-5 and at last after around 2-hours they had to as the visitors were packed up for 185.
Australia batted well but lost Warner late in the afternoon; but has run up to 61. With 124-runs to cross, Root not sure what would be thinking but 27th December,2021 would decide whether England were facing another whitewash in Australia!
Day 2: Horrible English Batting Spoiled the Incredible Class Job of their Bowlers; specially Jimmy Anderson at 39:
England were required an excellent spell of bowling in the first session specially after their rough start in the morning with the covid outbreak among the camp and they did that exactly. The way Anderson bowled specially to get rid of world class batsman like Steve Smith was a treat to watch before Wood found the edge of Marnus Labuschagne, the current top rank batsman. The only thing Root could do better would be starting with his pacers after lunch apart from bowling the easy spin of Jack Leach.
On the 11th day of this Australia trip, the England boys finally got their smiles back and most importantly, all the atmosphere looked so bright because they grabbed their catches regularly and field brilliantly. One of the boxes that Root has ticked on his captaincy duties is encouraging Broad & Anderson bit fuller. When he came up after the Day-night Test in Adelaide criticizing the lengths of the bowlers, Anderson did come up and took the responsibility. He is tough character, even on his 168th Test match, equal with Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh, at an age of 39, he ended the innings with a figure of 4-33 in his 23-overs.
The MCG Atmosphere:
Just when one found out that Australia had just 82-runs lead, they realized that their batters had to pass around an hour to end the day. Their horrible poor batting again got exposed when they came up against class acts of Pat Cummins and Mitchell Strac. The later took himself on a hat-trick and that loud cheer of MCG was at the top level one could hear since the 2015 World Cup Final. And only, the class of Joe Root survived the hat-trick ball. Again, he had to come up to bat at 7-2 on the 5th over.
If it wasn’t enough, home boy, Scot Boland in his first over picked up two wickets including the night-watchman. England has now their two best batters on the crease; Joe Root & Ben Stokes, with Bairstow and Butler to follow. They should look to offer Australia a target of at least 180 to have some fun, but they knew they could easily have a 2-day off in this Boxing Day Test.
Day 3: Boland’s 6-7 Blew Away England to Secure the Ashes:
The result could be easily painted but probably the mode or time of it arrive that sooner wasn’t expected at all. It would take Australia around 80-minutes to rip through the rest of English batting. Although, the day began quite positively from two of the visitor’s best batter, Stokes & Root, hitting straight boundaries; it was all about one delivery and Strac produced that incoming fire to go through the furniture of Ben Stokes.
The hero of the last afternoon, Scot Boland, did an extra-ordinary job with the ball. Picking up 6-7 in just 4-overs, when the other names read Pat Cummins and Mitchell Strac with Nathan Lyon to follow, was second to none. After getting Bairstow LBW, when he established the edge of Joe Root, the England captain and by far their best batsman of the year, the Ashes had arrived in Australia’s cabinet.
Boland finished with a 5-fer (6-7) to win the Mullah Medal on the Boxing Day Test. He may not be able to play another Test again but that 2-hours in the edge of Day-2 and Day-3 before home crowd of Melbourne couldn’t be nothing but the dream getting life.
Horrible Records For England:
Well, for England, with passing second, they were inventing themselves in a horror stat. Already, they have registered most Test losses in a calendar year (9) equaling with Bangladesh in 2003. They have also equaled their own record of having most ducks in a calendar year (54) after 1998. Even though, Root finished with 1708-runs in this year, he won’t be too pleased to see the next four batsmen aggregating 1701-runs in themselves.
If Bangladesh would have lost a game in six and half a session, people would have asked questions on their Test status; but how can you raise the same against the inventor of the Test format?
None the less, they will move forward to Sydney for the New Year’s Test and will look to at least show some fight. Their batsmen need to step up highly but as Cummins mentioned in the press conference, Australia will certainly look to replicate the 5-0 whitewash again after 2013.
England: 185 (J Root 50, J Bairstow 35, P Cummins 3-36, N Lyon 3-36) & 68 (J Root28, S Boland 6-7) lost to Australia: 267 (M Harris 76, D Warner 38) by an innings and 14-runs.
Man of the Match: Scot Boland.
Australia won the series and Retain the Ashes.