The real highlights of the 2019 Boxing Day Tests

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Festivus (CC licensed by R Crap Mariner via Flickr)

For clarity and brevity: yes, this is the through-the-Boxing-Day-Tests thread. This article will (probably) be updated (semi) regularly as the South Africa v England and Australia v New Zealand matches progress.

Remember The Real Ghostbusters? The Real Ghostbusters was a cartoon series they did after the original Ghostbusters film.

The Real Ghostbusters was a great and valuable thing because The Real Ghostbusters Magazine gave us one of our Jokes For Life. We can’t remember the exact format of the original joke, but it was about someone being bitten by a werewolf in the Carpathians and someone else saying, “Ooh, that sounds painful.” Now whenever we’re near an appropriately-named mountain range, like the Grampians, we try and crowbar it into a sentence so that it sounds like a euphemism for testicles. Great joke, The Real Ghostbusters Magazine. Great joke.

Even as a child we thought the ‘Real’ part of the cartoon’s name was weird, but we never really looked into it because (a) we were a child at the time and there was also no internet and (b) we were far more puzzled by the fact that they made Ray Stantz round and fat and are we mad, but Dan Ackroyd wasn’t round and fat in Ghostbusters, was he? Our confusion at this was compounded by the fact that Peter Venkman, who was played by the decidedly round-faced Bill Murray in the film, was given a long face and swooshy hair that made him look far more like Ackroyd.

Anyway, the ‘Real’ thing. Apparently they didn’t own the Ghostbusters name for the film. They licenced it from some company that had made a children’s TV series in 1975. When it came time to make The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, that company wanted the shorter, simpler version of the name for a cash-in cartoon of its own. We’ve no idea how successful it was, but you’d imagine that kids unhappy with the shape of Ray Stantz’s face in The Real Ghostbusters would most likely have spotted that a cartoon based on this….

… was maybe not the same Ghostbusters that they already knew. (That said, we once watched a full hour of a film called The Knight Rider, hoping that at some point they’d dismount their horses and that the plot would then jump to the era of talking cars, so who knows.)

And so to The Real Highlights of the Boxing Day Tests.

The real highlights…

The highlights of a Test match are all the fours and sixes and wickets and all that jazz. The real highlights include some of these things but other stuff too.

For the purposes of a website that sort of reports on cricket matches, but doesn’t really do reports, the ‘real highlights’ are the talking points. Funny, weird or somehow newsworthy elements.

Maybe England will pick five seamers again. They certainly seem depressingly open to doing so. The stats say that seamers take wickets more cheaply at Centurion, which is a nice, one-dimensional way of looking at things. You could equally say that Jimmy Anderson and Jofra Archer have the best bowling averages, so it makes sense for them to do all of the bowling. Options are good, changes in tempo are good, variety is king.

South Africa, for their part, will have to do their magical rejuvenation thing. Few teams bounce back quicker from losing their very best players prematurely and the Saffers are due to bounce. Maybe the high traffic exit door helps them develop such players in the first place, through handing promising players Test opportunities earlier than they otherwise would.

Down Under, the Australians are somehow bleating about New Zealand tactics even after positively bludgeoning them in the first Test. This is because all of their specialist batsmen were bounced out second innings and they’re obviously weak against The Great Neil Wagner’s short ball. No shame in that. How many will he bowl this time around?

So these are the kinds of things we’re going to be talking about

Plus a load of stuff that cannot be predicted.

What we’d like to do for these two Tests is a more official version of what we do anyway: we’d like to open up the floor and crowdsource our talking points.

We’ll be dipping and out of the Tests and watching what we can. We’ll also be missing plenty. Most of you will be doing something similar, so as a Festivus gift to each other, let’s highlight anything that catches the eye in the comments section and maybe between us we can get a handle on things.

This is the through-the-Boxing-Day-Tests thread. It’ll remain at the top of the site until both matches have finished. We’ll try and update it below whenever we get chance.

England picked five seamers again

Five… seamers…

The fifth seamer was probably Sam Curran, who then turned out to be the one who took four wickets.

We’re still sure of two things about Sam Curran.

Textbook Denly

Joe Denly (via Sky Sports)

We’re still learning what Joe Denly‘s all about. From what we know so far, getting out for exactly 50 after being dropped before you’ve scored a run is about as Denly as a Test innings could be.

He gutsed it out. He did better than the rest of the top order. He didn’t make much of a score. He could have been out for a duck.

Joe Denly.

Jonny Bairstow was bowled again

We’re asking whether Bairstow’s now officially the bowledest specialist batsman in Test history?

That’s right, you heard… the bowledest.

Flu Watch

We thought it was Wild Shits Watch at first, but they keep calling it flu.

Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood went down before the game. Leach, Woakes and Wood still have it. Jos Buttler has since succumbed, while Joe Root’s looking decidedly grey.

Australia v New Zealand

Nothing to report beyond the fact that New Zealand are getting battered again.

Neil Wagner’s bowled another 61 overs and will bowl more. He’s taken six wickets. One day he’ll finally realise he’s tired.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


    1. We were lazy long before we had a website. We’re just pleased that they’ve branded an aspect of laziness and in so doing given it an acceptable face.

  1. Is there still a need for Festivus this year? 2019 has been one long Airing of Grievances from what I can make out….

  2. Have a good one, everybody. I’m currently drinking a strong Cornish lager called ‘Hicks’. Insert your own joke.

    1. My favourite Cornish beer joke is to order a pint of Tribute, then if someone asks what I drinking, and if it’s any good, say: “it’s not the greatest beer in the world, it’s just a Tribute”.

      Consider that a Boxing Day Test Eve gift.

  3. My fav show of 2019 was the actual UK, and yet we had Ben Stokes. Cricket may yet be our saviour. Happy Festivus all of us 🙂

  4. So hello again, TalkSport. Two minutes in and I’m already feeling a bit sick. Although maybe that’s just the Yule log.

  5. Me, waking up in parents’ spare room and checking cricket score: ‘Excellent! “Anderson removes Elgar with first ball of series.” Jimmy’s back!’
    My sister: ‘ …returned, not ankylosing spondylitis or anything…’

      1. Twin beds. Bit narrow and the duvet tends to fall off in the night but at least no Thomas the Tank Engine duvet cover.

      2. Luxury.

        While Essie & Sisessie were enjoying the start of the test in the sibling dorm, Daisy and I were coming to the end of our Crisis night shift, unable to check the score!

        We should be edging back towards a more regular sense of day and night by tomorrow.

  6. Sister Smudge and I have just finished the crossword. Thank you, Bert we rather enjoyed that. We had similar issues with 34 across as Ged, but got there in the end. 2 down was Sister Smudge’s favourite clue, and we did enjoy the 21 across conceit.

    1. The number of sisters suddenly being mentioned on this site is reaching veritable convent proportions…

      …albeit, for now, a very small convent that could be housed in a single room with twin beds and entirely transport itself by tandem.

  7. The Real Ghostbusters was called such because of legal issues with this:

    The amusing thing (unless you’re Ernie Hudson), is that Hudson auditioned to play his own role again, but somehow lost the job to Arsenio Hall.

    Anyway, I see (well, read, I was asleep) that England’s batting is still crap.

  8. Watched The Cricket Debate in the we small hours this morning; I thought Rob Key was terrific on it.

    Not Bob Willis, obvs, but Key stood up to Charles Colville with good humour, despite the fact that Rob was doing an unscheduled additional shift and Colville was trying to put prattish words into Rob Key’s mouth.

    Top punditry from Rob.

    Ramps, on the other hand, is a very very pale substitute for the great Bob Willis in the regular’s chair. #justsaying

    1. Rob Key is good because he has very vigorous opinions and likes to argue with Colvile. You can’t replace Willis. Key is different, but he’s also well-suited to that show.

  9. Has anyone read ‘Following On’ by Emma John (I should probably put some sort of Twitter thing here but but I’m scared it’ll make me look silly (toe in the water) @em_john) [some sort of tag]insert question mark where you please[/some sort of tag].

    Gratuitous Amazon link:

    It’s really quite good if you followed England in the 90’s. It sort of follows my obsession with cricket if I’d been posher, and less male.

    1. Looks interesting.

      You could always write a book review of it for KC, of course.

      Or take a photo of your copy of the book in an unfeasible place.

  10. An entertaining typo (I think) from Cricket365’s interview with Morgan.
    “ On England’s shit in mindset…”

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