A stunning 86,174 fans checked into the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch Australia’s win against India in the final of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup on Sunday, even if it was a few thousand short than the anticipated world record.
Five years in the making, the highly-anticipated occasion lived up to its billing by setting a new attendance record not just for a women’s sporting event in Australia, but for women’s cricket globally.
In the six previous editions of the tournament, the highest final crowd came in 2009 when 12,717 watched England beat New Zealand in Sydney.
And seeing 73,000 more turn up in Melbourne for the same event 11 years later is a true testament to how far the game has come.
“I never thought I’d be playing in front of a crowd like this,” said Australia’s Ashleigh Gardner. “It was amazing to have all those people before us.”
What the match had achieved was apparent before the stadium gates had opened as fans streamed into Melbourne Park in their hundreds up to seven hours before the first ball was bowled.
Seas of yellow and blue engulfed the concourse as fans from all walks of life - male and female, boys and girls, young and old - came together through a love of cricket.
But it was when those fans entered the bowl that the real weight of the achievement hit home.
The noise was deafening from the offset - let alone when Alyssa Healy hit back-to-back sixes to set Australia on their way to lifting the title on home soil.
Since the 2018 tournament, there has been a 1600 per cent increase in viewing minutes in Australia while the ICC’s digital and social platforms have attracted an unprecedented 701 million video views to date - 600 million more than the 2017 50-over tournament recorded overall, the governing body said in a statement.
(With ICC inputs)