Crowds voting for exciting Big Bash
The summer of cricket hit a high note at the MCG on Saturday night
It all came together on a perfect Melbourne summer’s evening.
A whopping 80,883 people packed the MCG, smashing the previous BBL record of 52,633 set at last season’s Big Bash semi-final between the Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers.
In the history of this great stadium there will have been few occasions to match this one for pure, joyful exuberance.
My ears are still ringing.
The stands were alive with colour and noise.
Has there ever been a sporting crowd of that size so heavily made up of children?
They bring such a beautiful energy.
WATCH: Wade thrills the MCG crowd with classic catch
It’s impossible not to be swept up in the smiling, laughing, dancing, waving and roaring.
Even the toughest cynic would have been seduced by that kind of spirit.
And is that such a bad thing?
For those of you who think the BBL has finally arrived you’re a little late to the party.
This has been brewing for five years.
Last year I wrote about the Big Bash being part of the DNA of the Australian summer.
But never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined an atmosphere like the one at the Melbourne Derby.
A crowd of 45,000 people were expected at the game.
Almost double that turned up.
What does that tell us?
A tipping point has been reached.
The numbers don’t lie.
The fast and furious version of the game has struck a chord with sports fans but more importantly with new fans.
I’ve noticed even in households where cricket is no more than a passing interest (at best) it’s on in the background.
It’s the soundtrack of the summer.
Quick Single: Record crowd at MCG for Melbourne derby
Cricket Australia has made it blatantly clear its BBL strategy is to attract more “kids, families and females to the game” – and it appears to be working.
To still argue that it’s a novelty is a bit like saying Taylor Swift (the epitome of pop culture) is a one hit wonder.
A friend posted a photo on social media of himself at the MCG Derby, sheepish smile, with the caption: “Sold my soul to the 20/20 devil”.
If the Big Bash is the devil it’s a happy kid-friendly kind of beast - and Lucifer is having one hell of a party.
This is more than a bucket-wearing circus that rolls into town, entertains for a few weeks then packs up and heads to India.
The players do care – and that’s pretty obvious for all to see.
This series we’ve seen swashbuckling tons, a record partnership between Michael Klinger and Shaun Marsh, 13,000 fans supporting the WBBL in the first match of the Derby double header and some intriguing sub plots involving players vying for Test and World T20 selection.
The WBBL has added something fresh to the whole shebang, the importance of which depends on your worldview.
WATCH: Renegades claim WBBL thriller
For some it’s just something new and different, for others it’s a huge step forward for women’s sport and the ongoing fight for equality and respect.
No matter how you see it it’s a winner.
Among all the excitement, fireworks and hoopla I can’t help but think about the ramifications for one-day and Test Cricket.
As much as the day-night Test proved a hit, the strength of Test cricket will always boil down to the quality of the teams competing.
No amount of tinkering will change that.
For the long format of the game to flourish let’s hope investment reaches the right places and nations.
For the moment I’m putting aside all negativity – inspired by a night that will stay with me for a long time.
The people have spoken.
With their feet, face paint and watermelons!
The summer fling just got a bit more serious.
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