A world record crowd for a women’s sporting event could be set at the MCG with Melbourne landing the right to host the finals of the first ICC World Twenty20 events in .
The Age understands that the MCG will on Tuesday be confirmed as the venue for the women’s and men’s events, with the tournaments to be held separately.
The women’s final has the potential to draw the biggest-ever crowd to a stand-alone women’s sporting event in , and even worldwide.
The current record of 41,000 – set at a women’s football match in Adelaide in 1929 – stands to be broken later this month when Fremantle play Collingwood in an AFLW match at Perth’s new 60,000-capacity Optus Stadium, but an MCG Twenty20 match could comfortably eclipse the expected Perth figure.
There is even a chance the match could challenge the world-record crowd of 90,185 that attended the 1999 women’s soccer World Cup final between the US and China at California’s Rose Bowl.
The 2020 women’s world Twenty20 is scheduled to begin on February 21, 2020, with the final to be held at the MCG on March 8, two to three weeks before the AFL season begins at the venue with the Richmond-Carlton blockbuster.
The men’s tournament is being held at the beginning of the following home summer, starting on October 24 and concluding on November 15 ahead of the summer’s home Tests.
Fairfax Media reported early last year that the NSW government was looking to land the final of the men’s competition, but that looks to have fallen short.
The selection of the MCG for the games is a nod of approval for the venue despite the recent Boxing Day Test drama in which the MCG was lambasted for its lifeless wicket, with the ICC rating the pitch “poor”.
The MCG hosted the final of both 50-over world cups held in , in 1992 and 2015.
The announcement comes in a week in which begins a T20 tri-series involving New Zealand and England. There has been debate over the scheduling of international Twenty20 matches around the time of the Big Bash League finals, with clubs unable to field many of their best players as the domestic event reaches its conclusion.
The first World T20 was held in 2007, and has been held somewhat irregularly since, with the last event won by the West Indies in 2016. That the 2007 event in South Africa was won by India in a thrilling final against fierce rivals Pakistan has been credited in playing a significant role in the growth of the format, having come only months before the first instalment of the Indian Premier League.
While there is a four-year break between the men’s world Twenty20 events, there is another women’s event before 2020, with the West Indies hosting a stand-alone tournament in November.
The World T20 title remains an elusive crown for ‘s men, although the women’s side has saluted in three of the five tournaments, while losing the most recent final to the West Indies in 2016.
Champion all-rounder Ellyse Perry, arguably ‘s best known female cricketer, spoke late last year of her desire for ‘s female cricketers to have the chance to play on the country’s main stadium like the MCG or SCG.
“Cricket are really keen on the final being in one of the major stadiums in the country and filling that out,” Perry said.
“The WBBL is a really great vehicle for building that and growing the interest in T20 in . I think that’s the ultimate goal – filling out big stadiums.”
Playing stand-alone women’s matches at the world’s most famous grounds is not without precedent. England and India’s women’s teams played in front of a sell-out crowd at Lord’s last year as the home side won a closely-fought 50-over World Cup final.