Boxing Day Test set for 'very low' crowd amid ugly Aussie cricket farce – Yahoo Sport Australia

The CEO of the Melbourne Cricket Club has made a worrying prediction about the number of fans that are likely to be present on the opening day of the Boxing Day Test – a figure labelled 'very low' by Aussie great Simon O'Donnell. Cricket crowds around Australia have been noticeably down in recent months, with a record low crowd at the MCG last month for an ODI clash against England.
There was also hardly anyone in the stands at the start of the Test summer in Perth when Australia took on the West Indies, however fans flocked to the Adelaide Oval and Gabba for the last two Tests against the West Indies and South Africa respectively. And while we're accustomed to seeing 80-90,000 fans at the MCG for the first ball of the Boxing Day Test, MCC CEO Stuart Fox reckons that's unlikely to be the case this year.
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“I’d love to say yes (we’ll get a bumper crowd), but unfortunately crowds are down a little bit for cricket,” Fox said on SEN radio. “We’re looking at about 65,000 for day one, that’s typically about 5000-10,000 down on a normal day one at the Boxing Day Test.
“But across the five days, I’d hope we get around 180,000 people through the gates. It’s a pretty special event, for us it’s the equivalent of putting two grand final days in a row across five days.
“They’ll turn up, our members will turn up, it’ll be a pretty special few days, particularly day one, day two and day three, they’re pretty special. The weather is looking good so I’d encourage everyone to get out.”
Retired all-rounder O'Donnell was left gobsmacked by the prediction, saying 65,000 would be 'very low' for Boxing Day. “65k Stuart Fox is predicting at the MCG for Boxing Day, I think that is very low. For Australia and South Africa, I would have thought we would have clambered up a few more than that.”
SEN host Sam Edmund said: “I am disappointed if that is the case, it shocked me when he said that. Obviously, the early indication is that’s he number they’re expecting in all reality. I wonder if that would be one of the lowest crowds for Boxing Day we’ve seen in some time?”
The Australian public has shown a stark lack of love for cricket in recent months, which many have suggested is due to the manner in which Justin Langer left as coach. Langer was offered a six-month contract extension at the start of the year, which he viewed as an insult after Australia retained the Ashes in England before winning the T20 World Cup last year.
He stepped down as coach as a result, which came about after he reportedly lost the dressing room due to his intense style.
Just over 10,000 fans attended the third ODI between Australia and England at the MCG last month – the lowest crowd for an ODI at the venue ever. There was also vast swathes of empty seats at the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium for the first Test against the West Indies, while only 25,000 rocked up for Australia's clash with Sri Lanka at the same venue during the T20 World Cup.
“It’s fair to say I think the Australian cricket team might be on the nose to those out West,” commentator Tim Gossage said on SEN radio. “There are probably some repercussions from the exit of Justin Langer.
“As much as he’s moved on and a big section of the sporting and cricket community has moved on, there’s probably a level of people whose care factor has diminished somewhat with the Australian team."
Speaking to Yahoo Sport Australia last month, former Test captain Michael Clarke agreed the team was 'on the nose' with the public. He said: "We're trying to work out what's going down. I think there's a lot a lot of people still peed off with what happened with Sandpaper-gate.
"I think a lot of people are peed off with how Justin Langer lost his job and then there's been some stuff off the field with individual players as well. I think Cricket Australia need to be asking the fans what they expect and what they want from us as a cricket team.
"I think the key is to be respected, it's not necessarily to be liked. We care a lot about what people are saying about us. So many things are happening around this Australian team that are un-Australian."
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