Cricket fans and commentators have hit out over 'embarrassing' scenes at the MCG for the third ODI between Australia and England on Tuesday. Australia blasted a record total of 5-355 before completing a clean sweep of the series with a 221-run victory.
However there were just 10,406 fans there to witness it in person - the lowest crowd for an ODI at the MCG in cricket history. Commentators noted that there couldn't have been more than 1000 fans in attendance as the match got underway just after 2pm on a school and work day.
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While thousands more eventually showed up later in the match, it still made for some farcical scenes in the 100,000 capacity stadium. With Australia already holding an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, spectators stayed away from the largest stadium in the country for the third and final ODI.
The previous lowest attendance for an ODI at the MCG involving Australia came in 1979 during the World Series era when 12,077 turned up to watch the hosts play against England. The top level of the MCG was closed for the entire match on Tuesday in a sign of the predicted low crowd.
Travis Head, who scored 152 from 130 balls to bring up his third ODI ton and highest score in the format, said it was hard to miss all the empty seats in the 100,000-capacity stadium.
"I noticed it but when the ball is coming in at you, you don't really notice if there's 10,000 or 100,000 really," Head told reporters. "I guess we weren't surprised, with where the series was at ...Tuesday afternoon and weather hasn't been great so pretty tough conditions to come out and watch cricket."
The fact the match was played on a Tuesday in November - before the traditional 'start' of the cricket summer and Test matches - didn't help Cricket Australia's cause. Only three ODIs have previously been held at the MCG in November, with an average attendance for those matches just 17,993.
When ODIs at the MCG are played in December, January and February, the average crowd number rises above 40,000. Tuesday's farcical scenes marked a dramatic drop-off from the recent Twenty20 World Cup, with 80,462 people turning out to watch England win the final against Pakistan at the MCG just nine days ago.
India and Pakistan drew 90,293 fans when they played at the MCG in the group stage.
"No doubt it would have been tough for England coming off the highs that they have and try to play in this series with not many people showing up," Head said.
It's just ridiculous. You used to just know when things were on. At the moment, we know there's a Boxing Day test and a New Year's test. Apart from that, everything else is up in the air, with games being scheduled all over the place just to fit into agreements and TV schedules.
— Ian Harkin (@sportznut67) November 22, 2022
There’s so many things to love about Melbourne. It’s secret laneways, secret restaurants and bars, secret one day internationals at the MCG. #AUSvENG
— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) November 22, 2022
Are @CricketAus trying to kill ODI cricket? It’s embarrassing the scheduling of these games and most cricket in general. I could do a better job and for free.
— Max Allen (@BigMal84) November 22, 2022
Never seen a dead crowd like this at the MCG before. #AUSvENG
— Prabath🇱🇰 (@Prabathkv96) November 22, 2022
— Lachy (@Lachy_Steele) November 22, 2022
Three days after a sold out T20 World Cup finishes, a ODI series between Australia and England begins. This is the 3rd & final game at an empty MCG. Looks like it was in lockdown. A pointless ill timed series. IMO
Embarrassing for cricket, Cricket Australia, but also sad to see. https://t.co/1Ie2rScuOG
— Tony Frobisher (@Ateafilledpoet) November 22, 2022
Aussies make ODI history in staggering display
Head and David Warner powered Australia to a record smashing of England, scoring 269 for the opening wicket - the second-highest partnership in the nation's ODI history. The winning margin in the third and final game was Australia's biggest over England in ODIs, eclipsing the mark set in the second tri-series final of 1999.
Warner and Head's centuries helped Australia post 5-355 - the highest ODI total at the MCG - after England captain Jos Buttler won the toss and elected to field. Warner finally ended an international century drought spanning 1040 days, dating back to January 2020, blasting 106 for his 19th ODI hundred.
The pair, who only reunited at the top of the order for this series after Aaron Finch's ODI retirement last month, fell 15 runs short of breaking their own record for Australia's highest ODI partnership. The pair put on 284 together as Australia smashed Pakistan at Adelaide Oval in January 2017.
England's run chase was as lacklustre as their efforts in the field as they were all out for 142 in the 32nd over. Opener Jason Roy top-scored with 38 and had little support as England seemed more focused on their 6am flight home on Wednesday.
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