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18 April 2024

T20 match attracts record 80,000 to Melbourne Cricket Ground

Fans cheer during the Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Stars and the Melbourne Renegades at Melbourne Cricket Ground on January 2, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

By Reuters

The growing appeal of Australia's domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League was underlined when more than 80,000 fans turned up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for a match on Saturday night.

The crowd attracted to Australia's biggest arena for Melbourne derby between the Renegades and the Stars surpassed the previous record of 52,637 before a ball was bowled and 80,883 came through the gates in total.

Stars coach Stephen Fleming, whose team won the match by seven wickets, thought the attendance would send "shockwaves" around the cricketing world.

"There's a lot of talk about the different formats of the game but when you're getting crowds of 80,000, it's sending a pretty strong message," he told reporters.

"It's something I'm sure a lot of people will be taking notice of and looking to plot the future.

"It's just extraordinary where this competition is going. You've got quality cricket but the crowd support... it's astonishing."

The eight-team Big Bash League was started by Cricket Australia in 2011 and has grown steadily in popularity over its first five seasons.

Cheap tickets and the New Year's holiday weekend certainly contributed to Saturday's bumper crowd but the poor fare available in the more traditional test programme this year would also have helped.

Australia hammered West Indies in the first two matches of their ongoing series and Saturday's crowd easily surpassed the 53,389 for the first day of the Boxing Day test at the MCG, which traditionally attracts the biggest crowd of the year.