As Australia clinched a record-extending fifth ICC Women’s T20 World Cup crown, a new mark it created in the stadium beyond the boundaries of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Final broke the world record attendance for a women’s cricket match as 86,714 watched Australia beat India at the MCG. The attendance also marked the highest attendance for a women’s sporting event in Australia as the hosts won their fifth T20 World title in front of a home crowd
The women’s and men’s T20 World Cups are being held in the same year as standalone events for the first time in 2020.
In fact, that’s an understatement – the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 final will be seen as the day which marked the dawn of a new era for women’s sport worldwide. Five years in the making, the most highly-anticipated occasion in the sport’s history lived up to its billing by setting a new attendance record not just for a women’s sporting event in Australia, but for women’s cricket globally, ICC has confirmed in a Press release.
It may have fallen just short of beating the world record attendance for a women’s sporting fixture, but 86,174 fans filling the iconic MCG is a sight for any sports fan to behold.
In the six previous editions of the tournament, the highest crowd for a final had come in 2009 when 12,717 watched England beat New Zealand in Sydney. And seeing 73,000 more turn up in Melbourne for the same event 11 years later is a true testament to how far the game has come.
“I never thought I’d be playing in front of a crowd like this,” said Australia’s Ashleigh Gardner. “It was amazing to have all those people before us.”
What the match had achieved was apparent before the stadium gates had opened as fans streamed into Melbourne Park in their hundreds up to seven hours before the first ball was bowled.
Seas of yellow and blue engulfed the concourse as fans from all walks of life – male and female, boys and girls, young and old – came together through a love of cricket.
But it was when those fans entered the bowl that the real weight of the achievement hit home.
The noise was deafening from the offset – let alone when Alyssa Healy hit back-to-back sixes to set Australia on their way to lifting the title on home soil.
The crowd figures will be talked about for years to come, but you don’t have to look far to realise that filling the MCG for a women’s sport fixture will not be a one-off.
Records had been broken long before the gates at The G had even opened.
By the conclusion of the group stage, fans had engaged with an ICC women’s tournament in greater numbers than ever before.
Since the 2018 tournament, there has been a 1600% increase in viewing minutes in Australia while the ICC’s digital and social platforms have attracted an unprecedented 701 million video views to date – 600 million more than the 2017 50-over tournament recorded overall.
When we look at it that way, filling the MCG was just the icing on the cake for a ground-breaking two weeks in the world of women’s sport.
The best part is those numbers were always a possibility rather than a mere pipe dream.
But this tournament is about so much more than the figures –d it’s a defining moment for men, women, cricket lovers and sport fans across the globe.
The players who took to the field at the MCG were representing every female who has come before them and giving this generation the platform to shine will undoubtedly change the sport for the better.
Amidst the sea of face-painted children were not only young girls with new role models to look up to, but also boys wearing Australia shirts with Jess Jonassen’s name on the back.
“Everyone is talking about what a big day this is for women’s game, I think it’s a big day for cricket,” said ICC commentator Harsha Bhogle.
“In small towns in India they’ll all be watching these girls and saying ‘I want to be her on the big stage as well.’”
Australia’s winning 184 is the highest total in a T20 World Cup Final across both the men’s and women’s tournament.
So if Sunday night proved anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter who’s playing – sport always has the potential to be our greatest spectacle.
Cricket is a sport which brings joy to so many worldwide and now it’s proved it can successfully expand its circle.
And if this tournament is anything to go by, that circle is only going to get bigger and bigger.