Big Boxing Day deal done

Any talk of the MCG losing the Boxing Day Test can disappear for at least the next three years.

After Cricket Australia today confirmed the summer schedule against India would included the traditional Test in Melbourne, with crowds also likely to attend, a new deal between the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Victorian government was locked in.

The summer’s iconic Test will remain at Australia’s premier sporting venue for the next three summers, with India, England and then finally South Africa to feature.

It’s understood the arrangement is in line with the current Future Tours Program, which finishes in 2023, with the potential for another deal to be done in the meantime to safeguard the game being played at the MCG beyond that time.

A one-year rollover between CA and the MCC expired last summer and the three parties have been working towards finding common ground for some time.

On Monday, Victorian premier Dan Andrews confirmed there would be a crowd at this year’s Boxing Day Test.

“I’m very confident we’ll get a crowd at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test,” Andrews said.

“I don’t know how big it will be, but there will be a crowd there.

“That’s the advice I have and that’s what we are working towards.”

Issues with the MCG pitch, before last summer, created calls for the game to be moved.

Western Australian officials have long chased the game, with Optus Stadium boss Mike McKenna throwing his hat in the ring on countless occasions.

“The opportunity for us to take the Boxing Day Test this year is a real long shot,” McKenna said las year.

“But next year is not out of the question. Both the venue and the state government would be very keen to talk to Cricket Australia about a Boxing Day or New Year’s Test.’’

The potential for COVID-19 to rid the Boxing Day Test of crowds this year also put the Adelaide Oval in the frame to host it.

This summer is gonna be EPIC 💪 #AUSvIND

But that idea has been knocked on the head, and WA is not hosting a single game of international cricket this summer because of their hard border lockdown.

“We are dealing with circumstances and obstacles beyond our control. We respect and understand that difficult decisions need to be made to ensure our country can secure as much international cricket as possible this summer,” WACA boss Christina Matthews said.

This year’s Boxing Day Test will be the only international cricket in Melbourne and it won’t host Big Bash games until after Christmas.

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