'Record crowd at MCG

'Record crowd' expected for fourth Test
By Reuters

20/12/2010 at 13:23Updated 20/12/2010 at 14:25

The fourth Ashes Test could attract a record crowd of more than 90,000 to the Melbourne Cricket Ground later this week after Australia's stunning third Test victory in Perth.

The record verified attendance for a cricket match was the 90,800 who turned out to watch Australia play West Indies at the MCG in 1961, although unverified crowds at Kolkata's Eden Gardens are believed to have reached 100,000.

The first day of a Melbourne Test match, traditionally played on December 26 or Boxing Day, is one of the great occasions of Australian sport and so hopes are high that a bumper crowd will pitch up.

"We knew that day one would be very strong, the ticket sales have indicated a plus-80,000 crowd," Cricket Victoria chief Tony Dodemaide told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"But we will now do all we can to ensure that all seats that are available are taken. I think the high 80s, perhaps even up to 90,000, will certainly be a chance."

The first day of the Melbourne Test always attracts good crowds but with an intriguing Ashes series now tied at 1-1 and Australia riding high in confidence, interest could reach "fever pitch" for the match against England, Dodemaide said.

"Well we hoped - expected, really - that Australia would fight back hard and that's what they have done," he said. "The occasion on Boxing Day is something that is now ingrained, people do come along for the occasion of the event.

"The success of the match is so much more enhanced when there's context. If the series had've been gone, Australia not being able to win the Ashes, then it would have affected the appeal of the match in total, aside from the first day.

"Australia is now going in with momentum, I think it will create a lot of buzz."

Attendances in the first three Tests have been good with Brisbane recording the second-highest after the 2006-07 Ashes series and both Adelaide and Perth attracting their highest crowds of the century for day one of their Tests.