The Boxing Day Test match is one of the biggest events on the Australian sporting calendar.
The 2015 edition will see the Melbourne Cricket Ground play host to the West Indies in the second match of the Frank Worrell Trophy.
The Aussies have a dominant record over their Caribbean counterparts in recent times, having won nine out of 10 series since 1995.
Can the Windies turn it around this summer, or will it be another cakewalk for Steven Smith and company?
2015 Boxing Day Test – Australia vs West Indies
December 26-30, 2015 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Victoria, Australia
AUS vs WI Test match records
Australia – 45 wins
West Indies – 30 wins
Drawn – 23
AUS vs WI Test series records
Australia – 13 wins
West Indies – 8 wins
Drawn – 2
Last five Frank Worrell Trophy results
West Indies 0-2 Australia (2015)
West Indies 0-2 Australia (2012)
Australia 2-0 West Indies (2009-10)
West Indies 0-2 Australia (2008)
Australia 3-0 West Indies (2005-06)
Barring any unmitigated disasters in the lead-up, Australia will head into the 2015 Melbourne Test match as very firm favourites.
Even if they come out a little worse for wear after their three-Test series against New Zealand, the Baggy Greens will be expected to dispatch a WI outfit which has floundered horribly over the last two decades.
The Windies hardly put up a fight when these two sides met earlier this year, with Australia taking a very comfortable 2-0 away victory prior to their humbling in the Ashes.
With that being said, the home side’s Boxing Day XI will bear only a passing resemblance to those which strolled to victory in Kingston and Roseau.
Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin have called time on their Test careers, while there are doubts about whether Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood – the man of the series on that tour – will lead the Aussie pace attack come December.
The new-look Australians have endured an interrupted preparation for the summer, too, after their October tour of Bangladesh was cancelled due to security concerns.
But one suspects Aussie captain Steve Smith and his charges will have hit their stride by the time the 2015-16 Frank Worrell Trophy kicks off in Hobart.
As for the visitors, it’s hard to see any real improvement on the meek display they put on in their own backyard last June.
With Chris Gayle battling chronic back problems and Shivnarine Chanderpaul now gone (and in unceremonious fashion, it must be said), the West Indian lineup lacks any semblance of depth with the bat.
The famously unreliable Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo are probably the only names of note in a batting order now comprised of players who struggle to average 35 in domestic first-class cricket.
The upside is their youth, as the likes of Kraigg Braithwaite, Shai Hope, Shane Dowrich and Jermaine Blackwood are all under 24 years of age.
So, too, is Jason Holder – a standout all-round prospect who already captains the West Indies ODI team.
But there is an obvious lack of top-flight experience without Gayle and Chanderpaul, and wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin hasn’t exactly inspired confidence since succeeding Darren Sammy as Test captain.
And while guys like Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach can be very hard to play on their day, their erratic brand of fast bowling falls some way short of the consistent threat posed by the Caribbean quicks of yore.
However the teams look, and whatever the form, it will be Australia’s Test match (and trophy) to lose.
Top 5 Boxing Day Test moments
With a tradition stretching back to 1950, the MCG Boxing Day Test has played host to some of the most memorable occasions in Australian cricket. Here are 10 of the best.
5. Sehwag smashes 195 on day one
Virender Sehwag single handedly turned the 2003 Boxing Day Test on its head.
After some early mayhem, including a knock to the helmet from Brett Lee, the Indian opener stood and delivered 195 runs off just 233 balls in front of a packed house on day one.
That included 25 fours and five sixes – a hell of a feat at the ‘G, no matter where the ropes are set.
A fair chunk of those boundaries came off the leg-spin stylings of Stuart MacGill, whom Sehwag tonked for 48 from only 35 deliveries faced.
And yet, after getting within five runs of a mammoth double century, the one they call ‘Viru’ fell to a rank full-toss from part-time wrist spinner Simon Katich.
The most remarkable thing? That dismissal came in the 79th over – some 11 overs before the close of play.
If he’d hung around, there’s every chance Sehwag would have notched 250 by stumps.
4. Thompson and Border fall four runs short
The 1982 Boxing Day Test match is widely regarded as one of the great Ashes fixtures ever played.
Much of that status is owed to the last-wicket stand between Allan Border and Jeff Thompson, as well as the nature of its demise.
Needing 292 to win the match and claim the Ashes, Australia were nine for 218 and staring defeat in the mouth when Thompson joined Border at the crease.
The pair held on until stumps, however, and began the final day needing 37 to win.
They had whittled that margin down to just four runs when Thompson, looking to poke a single, fended a relatively harmless ball from Ian Botham into the slips cordon.
What happened next has become one of the most replayed moments in Ashes history.
3. Warne grabs an Ashes hat-trick
If Shane Warne wasn’t already a bonafide superstar by then, his performance in the 1994-95 Melbourne Test cemented his status as world cricket’s foremost spin bowler.
England were on the ropes in the second innings, trailing by nearly 300 with only four wickets remaining after Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming ripped through the top order.
But few remember the details of McDermott’s five-for, and that’s because of what Warne did shortly after Phil DeFreitas walked to the crease.
Having already bagged six wickets in the first innings, Warne proceeded to knock over DeFreitas, Darren Gough and Devon Malcolm in consecutive deliveries to claim the first (and only) Test hat-trick of his career.
Malcolm’s dismissal was memorable not only for completing the treble, but for David Boon’s outstanding work at short leg.
2. Lillee bowls Sir Viv on the last ball of day one
Many rate Dennis Lillee’s lion-hearted efforts in the 1981 Boxing Day Test among the great fast-bowling displays in cricket history.
Australia had scraped to 198 all out on day one, with Michael Holding running riot at the head of a fearsome West Indies attack.
But the visitors’ commanding position was all but erased by stumps after Lillee steamed in and snared three wickets inside 35 minutes.
The last of those was the most memorable: the great Viv Richards, bowled through the gate with the final ball of the day.
The Aussies went on to win the match, with Lillee (7/83 and 3/44) and Holding (5/45 and 6/62) each taking 10-wicket hauls.
1. Warne’s 700th Test wicket
You couldn’t have written the script any better for this one.
Shane Warne, the proudest of proud Victorians, came into his home Test in the 2006-07 Ashes needing only one scalp to become the first player to take 700 wickets in Test cricket.
The Melbourne masses flocked to the MCG to see their favourite son make history, and they were not disappointed.
In true ‘Warney’ fashion, on the biggest stage imaginable, the great man dismissed England captain Andrew Strauss with one of the most celebrated deliveries of his vaunted career.
Warne went on to take five-for as Australia downed their arch-rivals by an innings and 99 runs.