Ashes 2021/22: Boxing Day Test could see bumper crowd as restrictions ease

Boxing Day Test MCG

The Ashes edition of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and England could have a crowd of more 80,000 packed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Victoria state Premier Dan Andrews said Sunday that as Melbourne emerges from one of the world’s most prolonged series of Covid lockdowns, they were hopeful of playing host to a bumper crowd for the hugely popular fixture.

The number of spectators, if any, that would be allowed into the cathedral of cricket that is the MCG has long been up in the air.

However as Australia’s second-biggest city re-opened on Friday after more than 260 days under lockdown since the pandemic began, Andrews was hopeful the MCG will be jam-packed.

Nathan Lyon expects England star Ben Stokes to make this winter’s Ashes

“I want to see 80,000-plus people at the Boxing Day Test on day one, that’s what I want to see,” he told reporters in flagging a further planned easing of Covid restrictions.

“We are determined to deliver that. It won’t be easy. I think selling the tickets will be pretty easy. But we are very confident that we will be able to deliver that.”

The crowd for last summer’s Boxing Day Test against India was capped at 30,000 per day due to the pandemic.

The five-Test Ashes series will start in Brisbane on December 8 before moving to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and ending in Perth.

Cricket Australia said in July that venues would be sold to full capacity, except the 100,000-seat MCG, given the city’s battle against Covid-19.

Victoria state, in which Melbourne is situated, recorded almost 2,000 new cases and a further 11 deaths in the past 24 hours, but it is rapidly nearing an 80 percent vaccination rate when more freedoms have been promised.

Ashes out on a limb

In June, Cricket Australia announced they would sell tickets for the Ashes to full venue capacity, except the MCG, which would be sold to 85 per cent of capacity, pending government restrictions.

“We continue to work closely with venues and governments across Australia to ensure that events are held safely and greatly appreciate their support,” CEO Nick Hockley said at the time.

“In the event that capacities are reduced due to government restrictions associated with the pandemic, we of course guarantee fans full refunds.”