Pitch perfect: Boxing Day Test to remain in Melbourne for three years

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The Boxing Day Test will remain a jewel in Melbourne's sporting crown for at least the next three years after a new deal was unveiled on Wednesday.

As Cricket Australia finally confirmed this summer’s fixtures against India, the sport's governing body, the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Victorian government confirmed a multi-year extension had been brokered for the summer's iconic Test to remain at Australia's premier sporting venue.

A new three-year deal has been signed for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Sources close to the discussions said the new deal takes in this summer's clash, provided coronavirus restrictions do not force it to be shifted, next year's Ashes series and South Africa's slated return in 2022-23.

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.

CA has repeatedly said it wants the government to deliver more in terms of events and promotion leading into the Test, so it becomes more of a festival of cricket rather than simply being about a cricket match, or provide greater financial incentive for the Test to remain in Melbourne.

CA and its host television broadcasters also have the ability to double as tourism spruikers through footage of showpiece Victorian sites.

Perth's $1.6 billion Optus Stadium, through its industrious boss Mike McKenna, had been to poach the Boxing Day Test although the WA government under Premier Mark McGowan had not offered any backing.

The MCC last summer delivered on providing a more sporting pitch which ensured a more even contest between bat and bat, after the flat and hard drop-in decks had become a major concern. The MCC is planning on having new pitches available in the next couple of seasons.

The MCC has had issues with the quality and timing of cricket CA had offered, including Big Bash League matches where attendances have slipped in recent years. CA has been working to deliver a strong BBL this summer at a time it is under pressure from host broadcaster, Seven West Media. Whether crowds can attend BBL matches this summer remains unclear because of current COVID-19 restrictions.

The Boxing Day Test has been held at the MCG since 1980, bar 1989 when a one-day international was staged.

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