MCG boss predicts crowd in excess of 180,000 for Pakistan Test

MCG boss predicts crowd in excess of 180,000 for Pakistan Test
  • PublishedDecember 19, 2023

MCC boss Stuart Fox is forecasting crowds of up to 130,000 across the opening two days of the Boxing Day Test amid concerns over interest in the wake of abysmal attendance in Perth.

Fox also declared curator Matt Page wouldn’t deliver an MCG pitch that “cracks badly and opens up” after criticism of the “volatile” Optus Stadium wicket that deteriorated rapidly and led to several Australian batters taking hits to the hands and body.

Pakistan was rolled for just 89 in the second innings as the home team romped to a 360-run win that prompted questions about enthusiasm for Test cricket in Perth and watching teams that aren’t India or England.

Less than 60,000 people attended the four days of the first Test of the summer, including less than 10,000 for the fourth and final day when Australian spin star Nathan Lyon became just the third Australian bowler to take 500 Test wickets.

But Fox was confident the luring power of the traditional Boxing Day Test would ensure full stands for the second clash of the three-match series.

“I think the tradition and history of the MCG, we’ve had 155 Test matches since 1877, there’s so much history, people turn up,” he said.

“Day one, you’d want to push over 70,000, day two 60,000. I still think we can have really strong numbers for Pakistan.

Big crowds are expected for the Boxing Day Test. Picture: David Caird

Big crowds are expected for the Boxing Day Test. Picture: David Caird

“I think it will be higher than last year (against South Africa). Last year we had 155,000 across the days. I’d hope for well in excess of 180,000 for Pakistan. It’s not just about India and England.

“It will be a very special atmosphere on day one. People come to experience the fun of the MCG, it’s very social, it’s a pretty special time at the MCG those first few days”

Pakistan has shown a capacity to draw crowds in Melbourne. A clash with India during the T20 World Cup in 2022 attracted in excess of 90,000.

Fox was also keen to dismiss any concerns over the MCG wicket, which, like at Optus Stadium, is a drop-in pitch.

The wicket being used is one of 12 available, with seven inserted in the square for this summer and all of them unlikely to break up like the Perth pitch did.

“We had issues may years ago and we have addressed those issues and we have been very consistent for about four years,” Fox told SEN.

“We have renovated a number of pitches and we are renovating some at the moment. We have 12 pitches and we only have seven in at the moment and the Boxing Day pitch is just starting to be prepped.

“We’ve had two Shield game before Christmas and the pitch has performed well. We won’t get a pitch which cracks badly and opens up. We just haven’t got those characteristics.”

The Boxing Day pitch was rolled for the first time on Monday after a Big Bash clash at the MCG last Wednesday.


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