A record-breaking crowd could be on the cards for Boxing Day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when Australia do battle with England this year.
Tickets for the 2017-18 summer of cricket went on sale to the public this morning and the opportunity to be part of Australia’s quest to regain the urn has spurred demand across all venues.
And Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has tipped a packed MCG crowd on Boxing Day that could even exceed the record 91,112 that filled the iconic stadium on day one during the 2013-14 Ashes series.
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"Boxing Day is one great moment on the sporting calendar," Sutherland said on Monday. "Demand for tickets is strong.
"It’s a huge ground here but we know and understand it’s a time when many Englishmen come out to enjoy the Australian summer and create a little bit of atmosphere at our grounds.
"It promises to be a great occasion and certainly we would expect to be very close to breaking the record for the highest-ever attendance at a day of Test cricket on Boxing Day."
Prior to the 2013-14 Ashes, the highest attendance for a day of Test cricket at the MCG was the 90,800 who watched for the second day of the fifth Test against West Indies during 1960-61, while 89,155 turned up to watch Shane Warne capture his 700th Test wicket on a rainy Boxing Day against England in 2006.
The overall record cricket attendance at the venue is 93,013, set when Australia defeated New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup final.
Nearly 300,000 men's Ashes tickets had already been sold during the priority period to members of the Australian Cricket Family before Monday, with the opening Ashes Test match at the Gabba proving the most popular so far.
"Indications are (compared) to our last Ashes series which was in 2013-14, the demand is just above the previous levels, which were actually record levels,” Sutherland said.
"That’s interesting because we haven’t even had Perth go on sale yet (as the venue is yet to be confirmed).
"It’s a really good sign in terms of demand.
"We know there’s lots of interest from overseas."
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The day-night Test in Adelaide has also been popular, while the third day of Sydney’s New Year’s Pink Test, which will celebrate the 10th year of partnership with the McGrath Foundation this summer, is expected to completely sell out quickly.
With the 60,000-seat Burswood Stadium still under construction, the venue for matches played in Western Australia is not yet confirmed.
The WACA Ground is on standby as a back-up Test venue, and tickets for the third Test will only go on sale when the venue is locked in.
Sutherland said he was hopeful a decision would be made on the Perth Test venue by the end of the month.
"The completion dates for the stadium work pretty well for us,” he said.
"At the same time … there’s little room for things to go wrong in terms of teething problems that are perhaps inevitable.
"We’d love to see the Test match be the opening event for the new stadium, but to some extent that’s out of our control.
"We’ve very optimistic that there’s going to be cricket played at the new stadium in 2017-18.
"We’re hopeful it’ll be a Test match."
Tickets for the limited overs summer, including five ODIs against England and a T20 tri-series also featuring New Zealand, are also available.
The entry-level price is the same as the 2016-17 season, with adult tickets starting at $30, children's tickets at $10 and family tickets at $65.
The Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes Series is to be held from late October, with ticketing and broadcast details yet to be announced.
Ashes ticket sales key dates
NOW: Tickets on sale to all ACF members
May 8: Tickets on sale to the general public
2017-18 International Fixtures:
Men's Ashes Series
First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets
Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets
Third Test Perth TBC, December 14-18
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets
ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets
Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets
T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21