ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020
Lanning calls on fans to save the date
Lanning and Jones call on fans to get behind an ambitious bid to fill the MCG for the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup final
8 March 2019, 01:42 PM AEST
In 1988, a teenaged Mel Jones sat in the stands of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, completely baffled.
It was a World Cup final and some of the game’s finest players were plying their trade on the hallowed turf in front of her.
And yet, only a few thousand people were watching as Australia’s women’s cricket team romped to an eight-wicket win over England, claiming their third consecutive title in the process.
A little over 30 years later, the ambitions are much, much higher.
In exactly a year’s time, Cricket Australia and the International Cricket Council hope to sell out the MCG for the final of the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup, to be played on International Women’s Day.
In the process, they hope to break the current world record for attendance at a women’s sporting fixture – a figure of 90,185 set at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in California.
“Watching the Australian women defeat England (in 1988), I sat here and I couldn’t believe it,” Jones recalled at the MCG on Friday.
“I’d come here and I’d watch all the men’s games and it was packed.
“But it only had about 3,000 people watching Australia win another World Cup and I was really baffled. I couldn’t figure out why the ground wasn’t full to the brim.”
For current Australia captain Meg Lanning, the idea of walking out onto the MCG in front of a full house in just 365 days time is something she can scarcely imagine – but also something she believes can become a reality.
Drawing on her own experience of sitting in the stands for the final of the 2015 men’s World Cup, Lanning recalled the enormous roar that resonated around the MCG when Australia spearhead Mitchell Starc bowled New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum with the fifth ball of the match.
“That’s something that’s really driving our group, to make sure we’re out there on the day,” Lanning said.
“I love the ambition. Women’s sport been growing all the time in this country and around the world.
“Cricket’s been leading the way in that aspect and the thought of filling out this stadium on International Women’s Day next year is a really exciting thing.
“I know all the girls are really looking forward to being a part of it and hopefully it’s Australia in that final and all that crowd comes along to support us.”
The lofty goals add an extra element of pressure for Lanning’s world beating team, who’ll be defending the T20 title they won in the Caribbean in November.
The last time Australia hosted a women’s ICC event was the 50-over World Cup in 2009, when the hosts failed to make the final despite heading in as defending champions.
“I think there’s expectations at all World Cups to be honest,” Lanning said.
“We put a put a lot of expectations on ourselves and there’s external pressure as well.
“No doubt a home World Cup is on a whole different level and we won’t know (what it’s like) until we’re involved in that, but I guess it’s about the excitement the tournament’s going to bring.
“Hopefully we can break a few records there and if we’re able to achieve over 90,000 people here for the final, it would be an historic moment in Australian sport and hopefully the start of something bigger.”
Jones can already picture one way that “something bigger” could play out – and it’s in the form of future generations of Australian superstars.
In 1997, the Australia legend-turned commentator was part of the World Cup winning team that defeated England at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens in front of a crowd of more than 70,000.
“One of those 70,000 people was a young girl called Jhulan Goswami,” Jones recalled, referring to the legendary Indian fast bowler who has now taken more ODI wickets than any other woman.
“She didn’t even know women played cricket at that stage, but she was so inspired she went on and captained the Indian Women’s Cricket team.”
Jones and Lanning were among a crowd of sports stars from numerous codes who gathered at the MCG on Friday to call on fans to 'save the date' and book their tickets for the 2020 Women's T20 World Cup final.
Tickets for the tournament – including the final at the MCG – went on sale late last month, starting at $20 for adults while all kids’ tickets are $5.
Tickets can be purchased at t20worldcup.com.