Melbourne Stars v Melbourne Renegades, BBL 2015-16, Melbourne January 2, 2016

Melbourne derby sees record BBL crowd

Stringent security measures meant that many spectators could enter the MCG only in the second half of the men's BBL game © Cricket Australia

The Big Bash League enjoyed a landmark day in both Melbourne and Perth on Saturday, as a crowd of 80,883 - a competition record by nigh on 30,000 - packed into the MCG for the Melbourne derby, and the WACA Ground sold out once more for Perth Scorchers' fixture with Sydney Sixers.

Furthermore, 12,901 were at the MCG by the conclusion of the Women's Big Bash League Melbourne derby fixture, a record for a women's domestic game, and a larger crowd than any Women's World T20 final.

In Melbourne, however, the BBL's routine notching of milestones did not come without difficulty. Ahead of the WBBL fixture, as many as 2,000 fans were left outside the MCG as only one general admission gate was opened at the beginning of the match. The crowd more than doubled during the second innings.

For the men's fixture, many thousands were caught out by the stadium's stringent security measures. To illustrate, the crowd at the start of the game stood at about 55,000, and the 80,833 figure was only reached at the innings break as frustrated fans were finally able to enter the stadium. For the Renegades' innings, a queue had snaked all around Yarra Park.

A Cricket Australia statement read: "The Melbourne Cricket Ground has been highly proactive in their security measures for major cricket events this summer. The match tonight experienced an unprecedented record crowd for domestic cricket.

"We thank fans for their patience and apologise for the delays experienced entering the ground tonight. The safety and security of our fans, players and officials is always our number one priority and rest assured we'll continue to work with the MCG to ensure everyone has a fantastic experience at any cricket event this summer."

Despite the difficulties - which reportedly also saw many of the venue's food vendors run dry shortly after the innings break - there was a sense of triumphalism around a fine day for the competition.

"It's been a great day for cricket," said CA's Mike McKenna. "We were absolutely delighted to see crowds across the country come out in force, with record attendances at our men's and women's Big Bash League matches.

"To have more than 80,000 people at the MCG for the local Melbourne derby, then to witness a sell out in Perth for a re-match of last year's final, all on the same day, was a genuine milestone in the short history of the league."

Englishman Luke Wright, who upstaged more celebrated overseas players Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo to score a match-winning century for the Stars, said the crowd sent a message about the competition's pulling power.

"It was one of those moments where until it finishes you can't really enjoy it," Wright said. "I've been lucky enough to play internationally and in the IPL so I know about big crowds. Tonight rather than people abusing you and spitting at you, it was great to have the crowd behind. It just sends a message about how big this competition is.

"You look around and you pinch yourself, we had a feeling it would be big tonight, but obviously not that good. How special was that? To get a win, it's up there with the best cricketing moments of my life."

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  • Ian on January 4, 2016, 0:35 GMT

    @PRASH_CRITIQUE T20 has a future but so does Test cricket....Stokes' performance yesterday will be remembered long after most T20 matches are completely forgotten.

    England are more likely to stick with the current T20 structure, rather than mimic the franchise approach to T20. Why? 1. There is a lot of brand loyalty at the county level - compare the number of spectators who watch county cricket with the paltry attendances at Sheffield Shield matches. 2. For many counties, the existing structure works well e.g. Essex' T20 home matches are almost always a sell-out. 3. In England, many fans still prefer a day at a Test match v couple of hours at T20

    It might be different if there were cricket stadiums capable of holding 50,000 spectators but the only ground fitting this description is the Olympic stadium in London. It's been talked about as a T20 venue for some time but thus far it's just hot air.

  • PALLAB on January 3, 2016, 7:20 GMT

    @ShaolinX": Thanks for the "localized" & insightful answers. Can get very interested in economics of cricket, on-ground support for teams & the support shown by fans at grounds rather than just vast television/online audiences & their motivation levels for "domestic" matches. Though the cookie-cutter last monikers of such city teams are off-putting for me rather than just the city names which have more pull/draw/loyalty factors…otherwise it's just a case of catching up on the exploits/performances of marquee/fav players for neutral followers. The crowds during the high-quality India-Pak ODI series in Toronto in mid-'90s used to be fascinating too..mix of WI/OZ expatriates along with the obvious Indian-Pak expatriates.

  • Lalith on January 3, 2016, 6:23 GMT

    @EMANCIPATOR007 I'll do my best to answer your questions buddy. 1.Given how poor the current WI team is, I'm sure there were 1000s of fans who skipped boxing day in preference to this game. 2.It is about 1/3 cost for a family to go a BBL game as it is for an ODI at the MCG. 3.Melbourne cricket fans were asked to turn up as the record crowd for a BBL game was held by Adelaide. 4.The weather was perfect. 30,000 pre sold tickets, 50,000 turned up on the day and bought tickets at the ground. after New Year's day 6.ODI crowds of 80s and 90s were no doubt helped by the fact that was the only short form game at the time. Also, only the first 2 hours of an ODI was broadcast on TV into the host city. To see the last 70 overs you had to go the ground. 7. Melbourne's population is around 4 million so "smaller cricket economy" is irrelevant. 8.Both Melb franchises have established supporter bases now. 9. BBL is huge in Australia this summer

    no doubt there are more reasons but it's a start

  • PALLAB on January 2, 2016, 22:57 GMT

    Can some Ozzies explain the semantics behind such a massive crowd? Why wud local fans pay top dollars to watch 2 Melbourne teams slug it out for a domestic T20 match, notwithstanding the star line-ups in both teams? How can loyalty divided towards 2 city teams jee up fans? Was it just a case of hanging out with family/friends on a weekend, like an outing in an entertainment zone in mega city downtown/city centers or like attending some carnivals? Was there localized super-saturated marketing of this match in a hyper social-mass media era by CA? Such crowds used to be seen ONLY for international standing triangular World Series ODIs when the pulsing, dynamic Caribbean teams of Viv/Lloyd used to be called to tour OZ often in '80s/early '90s (check Haynes/Richardson's records' how many ODI matches they have played in OZ!). Quite a case study this massive turnout for a domestic T20 game in a significantly smaller population cricket economy than India's.

  • Neeraj on January 2, 2016, 18:19 GMT

    Very true, i would love to see this happen a full season 6 months professional league in line with MLB, NFL or NBA. It will happen for sure, hope it happens soon!!!

  • Monty on January 2, 2016, 18:04 GMT

    It's not just India and Australia. the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is quite good too. There's also a good T20 league in South Africa. I think it's called the Ram Slam T20 competition. Bangladesh's league is not bad and the Pakistanis are about launch theirs. T20 is indeed the future of cricket, but I'd watch an intriguing test match on any day.

  • Prashant on January 2, 2016, 14:54 GMT

    T20 is the future of cricket. India and Australia have created two world class cricket leagues of their own - IPL and Big Bash. It is now turn of England to create a similar world class T20 league of their own. It will secure the future of Cricket as a top class sport in 21st century.

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