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http://www.cricket.com.au/Global Items/Blogs/justin-langer/2012/12/25/the-thrill-of-boxing-day

Justin Langer


Langer: The thrill of Boxing Day

25 December 2012 2

The Boxing Day after I retired, I vividly remember standing in my kitchen with a cup of coffee, singing the national anthem under my breath, as the boys belted it out in front of a roaring MCG crowd.

The tingles still made their way up my spine.

Of all the things I miss about being a part of the Australian cricket team, the national anthem on Boxing Day is certainly one of them. 

In fact, the whole Christmas Day and Boxing Day experience with the team is an amazing one. 

Practicing and then walking on the hallowed turf of the MCG with my kids on Christmas Day always filled me with pride and enthusiasm for what would happen the following day.

On the days that we were batting first, there was simply no better experience than walking over the white line on Boxing Day morning.  The crowd was so loud that the noise almost lifted you out to the middle.

I still pinch myself that I had the chance to experience that so many times.

Even over the last few years, I felt it a privilege to be at the MCG with the team. 

While I wasn't walking over the white line, I was still able to warm up with the boys and take in the atmosphere from the second best seat in the house.

It is incredible, simply incredible, and it is no wonder the Boxing Day Test is such an iconic fixture in the Australian sports calendar. 

This year will be just our third time in the last sixteen that we haven't been in Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test. 

Much as we will miss it all, being home with my family is very special and I am looking forward to enjoying the Test match the same way most other Aussies do.

Rather than being at the MCG, I will be sitting on my couch or listening to the ABC coverage from wherever I might be over Christmas. 

Because of the thrill of playing in a Boxing Day Test, I can feel for Mitchell Starc who is being rested this year.  Much as I understand the sports science, I can still empathise for Mitchell, because he knows exactly what he is missing out on.

There is only one MCG Test match a year and it is not the one you want to be missing out on.

Much is being made of the rotation policy being enforced in the current team and while I understand the theory, I feel it is important that it is communicated well to the players and the public if this is to become a consistent policy. 

Few players want to miss a Test match and the public want to watch their favourite players as often as possible. 

The upside is that a player like Jackson Bird will make his Test debut. 

Having watched him over the last few weeks in domestic cricket, I like the fact that he is being rewarded for two good seasons in Shield cricket. 

Like many of the best bowlers, there isn't much fancy about Jackson, except that he is very accurate, and disciplined in his approach.

He gives the batsmen little to score from, which allows him and his team to build up pressure on the opponent. This approach is the single most obvious trait of all of the very best bowlers. 

A drying up of runs leads to pressure, and it is pressure that leads to mistakes. 

Michael Clarke and Australia will be hoping that this plan ensures a series win by the end of this Test match.

Sri Lanka on the other hand will be looking to reverse the pressure by playing on any nerves Jackson Bird is sure to experience over the next five days. 

Talking about Michael Clarke, I would be amazed if he doesn't play in this Test match. 

He is one of the toughest players currently playing and he knows that he won't want to miss any Test matches while he is in the form that he has expressed over the last 12 months. 

With records and victories up for grabs, the skipper wouldn't be able to walk for him to miss this Test match.  Time will tell.

In the unlikely event that he is ruled out, Shane Watson will do a good job as the Australian Test captain.  The times he has taken over from Michael in the last year, he has been cool under pressure and has led from the front.  He is ready for the opportunity. 

While the Test match is going on the BBL ignites back into action. 

This time last year I was watching from afar and enjoying the entertainment.  This year, my view of the action will be from a much closer vantage point and I am looking forward to seeing how this season unfolds.

It is certainly close and with the Renegades leading the charge, the Perth Scorchers will be looking forward to stopping their run on the 29th December.

Christmas in Australia is synonymous with cricket and for every cricket fan there is plenty to look forward to as things start to heat up in our brilliant summer.

Merry Christmas to all.


From Perth

JL

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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