Huge MCG crowd just fails to break record
Melbourne's infamous fickle weather foils the bid to attract a world record Test cricket crowd at the revamped MCG in its 100th Test.india Updated: Dec 26, 2006 14:46 IST
The biggest-ever Ashes crowd turned out for the first day of the fourth Ashes Test on Tuesday, but the world record Test attendance set almost 50 years ago remains intact.
The official attendance of 89,155 that turned out at the MCG was the biggest ever for a single day of a Test between England and Australia and also the highest Boxing Day attendance.
On a historic day, it was the second-biggest crowd ever for a day of Test cricket, but fell tantalisingly short of the record of 90,800 people that attended the venue in February 1961 to see Australia play the West Indies.
It continued the healthy attendances for the most anticipated Ashes series ever, with the three previous Tests, in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, all setting ground records for overall attendances for a Test match.
Melbourne's infamously fickle weather foiled the bid to attract a world record Test cricket crowd at the revamped MCG in its 100th Test.
Despite the series already being decided, the day's play was a sell-out many months ago due to the unprecedented hype surrounding Australia's bid to reclaim the Ashes.
Boxing Day is the most eagerly anticipated day of cricket in each Australian summer and with champion leg-spinner and local hero Shane Warne set to claim his 700th Test wicket, it was hoped more than 98,000 people would turn out on Tuesday.
However, Melbourne is in the midst of an unseasonal cold snap and showers were forecast for the day, undoubtedly keeping many people away despite the prospect of seeing Warne become the first Test bowler to reach 700 wickets.
The promised rain arrived, forcing players from the ground twice, and made for bitterly cold conditions for many spectators.
The weather matched the mood of the disappointed Barmy Army, but the failure to break the world record was the only disappointment for Australian fans.
In his final Test on his home ground, the soon-to-be-retired Warne delivered one of the memorable moments in 100 MCG Tests when he clean bowled Andrew Strauss to claim his 700th scalp.
The leggie received a standing ovation just for stepping up to the bowling crease, again when he dismissed Strauss, another from his adoring fans when he claimed his fifth scalp to end the England innings, and a final one as he left the field.