To me, there is nothing worse than spending Christmas Day on a beach. I feel I should clarify that a little. There is nothing worse for me than the idea of Christmas on a beach in the scorching hot southern hemisphere sun.
Furthermore, Australia is probably bottom of my list of places to visit. I’m not great in heat, I don’t particularly like spiders and the accent would soon grate on me.
It might surprise you to know, therefore, that my dream holiday involves being in Melbourne on Boxing Day.
Of course there is a reason for it. To watch the first day of the Boxing Day test at the Melbourne cricket ground, preferably in the middle of a competitive Ashes series has always been a dream of mine. There aren’t many days of cricket which appeal without even knowing the teams, or situation of the series. The 26th December in Melbourne is one of those.
It’s a special sporting event. If the date highlights it as slightly unusual, the location sets it apart from other events happening on Boxing Day. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one of the best stadiums in the world. Boasting a capacity of over 100,000, its appeal has led to its inclusion on the Australian National Heritage List.
If they are the facts, they do no justice to what I imagine it to be like. There are certain stadiums that take the breath away just from looking at them. Stadiums where history, both recent and not, resonates from the inside out, stadiums where your eye refuses to be drawn from and where your mouth remains open.
The G doesn’t have Wembley’s arch, it doesn’t, at least to the best of my knowledge, boast the floral arrangements that decorate Wimbledon’s Centre Court. It doesn’t need them. The sheer size of it draws the eye, and I’m sure the tallest light towers in any sporting arena is a plus point for some very sad folk, while the history takes care of the rest.
This was where the first Test match was played, this was where the first ODI took place. It has been the centrepiece of an Olympic games, a Commonwealth one and two Cricket world cups. Rugby, Aussie Rules, Football and concerts have graced the turf, but none of that compares to the Boxing Day test in an Ashes series.
England v Australia series are special whatever the scenario. But I imagine they take on new meaning within the sporting arena to end all, on the day after Christmas. And it’s for that reason, that I would happily accept a Christmas Day on the beach being terrified by the local wildlife knowing that if I survived, I would get to sample the cauldron of the greatest day in any Ashes series (home or away).
Lords appeals to me, but doesn’t call me as much as the MCG does.