Today is Boxing Day, so-called for the alms boxes which were distributed to the poor of the parish after Christmas, or to servants in large houses.
As with Christmas Day, not much happens on Boxing Day, with two important exceptions: there is a full day of football around the country, and there is the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (the MCG) in Australia – one of the world’s great sporting arenas.
At the moment the English cricket team is touring Australia in a re-run of this summer’s Ashes (a cricket contest between England and Australia, run every couple of years on average), and it is going disastrously – two key players have walked off the tour, Australia have won easily already (it is best of 5, and Australia have won the first three games) and there is talk of the end of what has been a successful era for England.
Oh well. There is still the Boxing Day test to look forward to, as an institution if not as a sporting event. Play starts at 1030 local time, which, since Cambridge is 11 hours behind, means that at half an hour before midnight on Christmas Day you can partake, for as long as you are able, in one of the great sporting events. There will be a full-house of 90,000, and it is midsummer. Just for an hour or so whoever tunes in in England will be in a different world.
Here then is a long except from the last time England were there, in 2010 – one of the great days for English cricket.