Never mind the level of contest the West Indies are expected to provide over the next week, if Boxing Day Tests at the MCG have proved anything over the years, it is that an all-time “moment” is only ever a ball away, no matter the opposition.
There is of course no better example of that than the Muttiah Muralitharan “throwing” incident.
MURALI CALLED FOR THROWING
It has been 20 years since Australian umpire Darrell Hair called the Sri Lankan off-spinner for seven no balls on Boxing Day in 1995, casting an otherwise ho-hum Test and series into the spotlight.
Incensed at the incredible turn of events, Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga sensationally left the field to seek advice from his team management.
Up to that point, Muralitharan had been called for “chucking” five times, and the young spinner stood with his hands on his hips gobsmacked at the unprecedented situation that was unfolding.
When Ranatunga returned to the field, he continued to bowl his spinner from the end from which Hair was umpiring, which led to another two no-ball calls.
Finally, Ranatunga removed Murathitharan from the attack and re-introduced him at the other end, under the eye of umpire Steve Dunne, who did not deem the bowler’s action to be illegal, but the controversy had begun and would never be forgotten.
Umpire Darrell Hair gives his ruling on a delivery by Muttiah Muralitharan in 1995. Photo: Jack Atley
WARNE RULES THE ‘G
Spinners have always played a special part on Boxing Day, but none more so than the “Sheik of Tweak”, Shane Warne.
The Victorian’s affinity with the ‘G began with a match-winning 7-52 against the then (but certainly not now) powerful West Indies in the 1992 Boxing Day Test.
However it went to another level in 1994 when Warne took a hat-trick in the second innings of the Test against England, dismissing Phil DeFreitas, Darren Gough and Devon Malcolm in successive balls, the last helped by a ridiculous diving catch from David Boon at short leg.
Jubilation as Shane Warne takes the third wicket of his hat-trick, that of Devon Malcolm.
Then, the “Warnie” chants were just beginning, but by the time he played his last Test at the MCG – the 2006 Boxing Day Test against England – those chants had become full-blown standing bows from the crowd, as if Warne were their god.
The spinner had just announced he would retire at the end of the heavily-hyped series, creating massive interest in the build-up and the fact he was closing in on his 700th wicket only added to the buzz.
And at 3.18pm on December 26, 2006, Warne became the first cricketer to reach the milestone by clean bowling England left-hander Andrew Strauss, causing an eruption from the 89,155 spectators who were there to witness it.
These are just some of the great Boxing Day Test moments. Let us know your favourites in the comments.
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