Australia v West Indies: Great Boxing Day Tests
AUSTRALIA and the West Indies have featured in some classic Boxing Day Test matches at the MCG.
But if recent results by the present West Indies line-up are any indication, this year's edition could be remembered for the all the wrong reasons.
Third Test, 1975
MANY members of Clive Lloyd's near-invincible West Indian teams of the 1980s could trace their collective successes back to the summer of 1975/76 and a ruthless Australian team.
A massive first-day crowd of 85,661 turned out at the MCG hoping for a tight contest.
The Windies' team featured Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards and brilliant quick Andy Roberts, up against an Aussie team featuring the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, and ruthless pacemen Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee.
What the fans saw was a mauling, Australia winning by eight wickets.
Lillee and Thomson finished with seven and six wickets, respectively, for the match.
But, it was a thrashing the Windies would use as motivation to build a phenomenal era.
First Test, 1981
THE West Indies had at its disposal one of the best pace attacks of all time - Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.
Within half an hour the hosts had crashed to 4-25, skipper Greg Chappell dismissed for his fourth consecutive duck.
But, as Holding ripped through the batting line-up with five wickets, Kim Hughes stared down the Windies' menacing pace battery, making one of the great Test hundreds as Australia scrambled to reach 198.
Lillee then struck back hard to have the tourists 4-10 at stumps, bowling Richards for two on the last ball of an incredible day.
The following day, Lillee broke Lance Gibbs' world record for most Test wickets (309), finishing the match with 10-127 as Australia won by 58 runs. Hughes, however, was named man of the match.
Second Test, 1992
A DECADE later, the West Indies pace quartet had gone, with Curtley Ambrose, Ian Bishop and Courtney Walsh now leading the way.
Richie Richardson, Carl Hooper, Desmond Haynes and the young Prince of Trinidad, Brian Lara, were the cornerstones of the batting line-up.
Australia batted first on a difficult wicket, elegant stroke-maker Mark Waugh making a brilliant 112 and skipper Allan Border 110 as the Aussies were bowled out for 395.
Victorian cult hero Merv Hughes then tore through the West Indian top-order, taking the first three wickets to finish with 3-51, reaching his 150-wicket milestone along the way.
The tourists were dismissed for 233 but Australia could manage just 196 in its second innings, Bishop taking 3-45.
The target was 358, but a haul of 7-52 by a young Shane Warne steered the Aussies to a memorable victory.
Phil Simmons, the present West Indies coach, made 110 in the second innings out of the total of 219.
Third Test, 1996
THE Windies arrived down under after losing their 17-year stranglehold on the Frank Worrell Trophy the previous year on their home shores.
But the aging champions were still expected to give the hosts a run for their money, and they did just that in Melbourne.
After a relatively quiet first two Tests by his standards, Ambrose was back to his brutal best, taking nine wickets for the match, including bowling Matthew Hayden after he shouldered arms.
Australia crumbled for just 122 in its second innings, the Windies reaching their modest fourth-innings target of 87 with six wickets remaining.
The teams have met on Boxing Day just once since then, Australia winning by 352 runs in 2000.
Steve Waugh made the only century of the match and Jason Gillespie picked up 6-40, including the wicket of Brian Lara for a duck as the tourists were dismissed for 109 in the second innings.