Marcus North column

AFTER Australia dominated the first Test, West Indies will be preparing for Melbourne and the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

I only played one of those special matches and, my dreadful record aside, it was brilliant to be part of. There’s not a day in world cricket like December 26 at that iconic ground.

As an Australian cricketer, that Test is the ultimate match you want to play in. We all have our home grounds, and it’s nice to play in front of your home ground, but Boxing Day is something special.

Anything that has that context of tradition and history behind it is always good to be a part of. And when you get the big Test teams coming to town, you’re looking at 80,000-plus on day one.

The people in Victoria support their sport better than any other state in the country and they certainly come out to enjoy themselves in the festive period.

You spend Christmas Day with your family and team mates, but you don’t tend to hold back on the food. The year I played Boxing Day, we spent the day before at a casino, having lunch and the food was brilliant. The only downside is it’s a dry Christmas!

You can’t let your hair down, and drink the champagne or wine, but you know you have a Test match the day after and the ultimate buzz is one that stops the country for that day.

Crowds do tend to dip a little bit on days two and three but if Australia do well, we can still see over 40,000 at the ground. I’m not sure that will be the case this year with the West Indies in town, but that doesn’t take away how special it will be for the people making their MCG debut.

The players won’t be fazed by it though. Domestic players in Australia, such as Jordan Silk, are far more prepared to play in front of bigger crowds, and a lot of that is because of the Big Bash.

A lot of them would have played IPL as well, and they will be beginning to prepare for the World Twenty20.

That tournament is not far away now and the draw was always going to pull out two tough groups. When you have the top eight teams automatically playing, and only two groups, there won’t be easy games.

India and Pakistan will enjoy the sub-continent conditions, but there are players that are experienced in those conditions.

Australia haven’t really played t20 very well in comparison to the other formats, but they have some specialist players for t20 and hopefully that will serve them well.

That’s definitely the way to go and a really important move. It’s been part of the recent success England have had, where they have almost a completely different squad from the Test arena to t20.

You need guys that play that format very well domestically, and it’s a great stepping stone to get into the international scene.

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday December 18 2015

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