Cricket on Christmas Day
In recent times professional team sport in Australia has moved away from largely being a Saturday afternoon affair to being played at a range of times, day and night, on any day of the week.
Two days have been largely sacrosanct – Good Friday and Christmas Day.
However, apart from the AFL, this reluctance to use Good Friday is gradually disappearing.
Not so Christmas Day – yet it was not so long ago, 1954 to be precise, that a Sheffield Shield game between NSW and Victoria featured a day’s play on December 25th.
Today Cricket Australia seem to have a policy in place in which a Test match will always begin on Boxing Day, in Melbourne and feature Australia playing another top cricketing nation, most recently England.
The policy suggests Christmas Day is not to be used for any reason.
But the move to include an increasing number of Twenty20 games into an already crowded cricket calendar may change this.
I’m not just suggesting slotting a BBL game in then, rather a full blown international.
Consider this – in most recent seasons Australia has invited at least two international cricket teams to tour the country over the summer months.
In 2012/2013 we saw both Sri Lanka and South Africa play Tests here.
Invariably, these Tests are preceded or followed by a series of Twenty20 or one day internationals between the same countries. Fitting all these games in is difficult, especially as rest days need to be set aside between matches.
But why not have two countries touring at the same time, one playing a series of Tests, the other a series of Twenty20 games. The situation could be reversed after a 3 Test series.
Thus country A could still play Australia in the traditional Boxing Day Test while country B could play a series of Twenty20 matches, with these games occurring on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, two days that normally don’t feature Test cricket.
Now the immediate cry would be how could Australian players play both. Obviously they couldn’t, but a quick look at the recent Australian team which played England shows only George Bailey featured in both these formats against England.
Indeed the trend in recent years has been for a declining number of players to do so – it’s a natural progression to completely separate our Test team from our Twenty20 side.
If this plan was introduced, perhaps a triangular tournament of one day internationals between the 3 countries could occur at the end, with the Australian team consisting of a mix of the best Test and 20/20 players.
As international cricket dates are set well in advance it would be difficult to implement these suggested changes quickly.
With 2015 set down for the World Cup cricket one day series in Australia and New Zealand, it might be worth looking further ahead to the following season when New Zealand and the West Indies are set to tour. As neither of these two nations are currently ranked highly, this could be the time to look at these suggested plans.
And how would Tasmania benefit.
As premier for a day, I would be immediately contacting Cricket Tasmania to take the suggested scheme to the Australian Cricket Board.
With Tasmania to host the first international 20/20 match on Christmas Day, a great way to boost Tasmania’s profile. And bring in a few more of the all important tourist dollars.