South Africa tour of Australia, 2005-06 December 8, 2005

MCG administrators to woo female fans

Cricinfo staff

Cricket Australia has targeted more female spectators ahead of the Boxing Day Test © Getty Images
In a move targeted at wooing female fans, Cricket Australia has declared that one day of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and South Africa in Melbourne is to be dedicated to women. Cricket Australia and Melbourne Cricket Club officials have been concerned about the decline in attendances after Boxing Day.

"Ladies Day" will fall on the second day of the Melbourne Test and women will be educated on field placings and cricket tactics as well as being invited to sip champagne in an enclosure of the new northern stand. The move is seen as an attempt to acknowledge the role of women in everyday life.

"At last year's Test the crowd was around 135,000 and of those about 8000 were children under 16," Ken Jacobs, Cricket Victoria's chief executive, told The Age. "The crowd normally falls away by about 50% a day [after Boxing Day]. You're building up to the result of the match and yet the crowd is falling away."

Cricket Australia even announced that the boundary enclosure would feature a big screen - much like the popular marquees at racing spectacles - a children's playing area, and a brunch hosted by Cricket Victoria and the MCG. Officials have also invited Belinda Clark, the former Australian captain, to make an appearance. The third day's play of future Tests over the course of the Australian summer have also been designated as family days, during which children will be admitted free.

Jacobs said the idea was inspired from other Australian sports events, such as horse racing, the Australian Open tennis and the Adelaide Test. "We want to ensure the crowd is still strong over days two, three and four, and five if necessary, but also to ensure that the Boxing Day Test is an event for everyone," he said. "It's not just about what goes on in the centre of the ground."