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Massive MCG crowd will send 'shockwaves' through cricket, predicts Stephen Fleming

One of cricket's most astute judges, Stephen Fleming, predicts the 80,883 crowd that swamped the MCG for the Melbourne Big Bash League derby will "send absolute shockwaves through the cricketing world".

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Fleming, the former New Zealand captain, has long coached in front of raucous crowds in India, at the helm of Chennai in the IPL. Nevertheless, the 42-year-old was visibly stunned by the size of the crowd that watched his Melbourne Stars reach their target of 162 with seven wickets and five balls to spare against Melbourne Renegades on Saturday night.

"It's just extraordinary where this competition is going," said Fleming, who is in his first year as coach of the Stars. "The crowd support is astonishing."

The MCG scoreboard shows the record attendance at Saturday's BBL game.
The MCG scoreboard shows the record attendance at Saturday's BBL game. Photo: Getty Images

Even though the Stars line-up boasts experienced internationals such as Kevin Pietersen, James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell, the coach told his players before the match to brace for a momentous occasion.

"We were thinking 50,000 to 60,000 would be an amazing day, but [almost] 81,000 – I'm speechless. The players are absolutely pinching themselves. For Luke (Wright) to have a day like that will be one he'll never forget, for sure," said Fleming, about Englishman Luke Wright's 109 not out from 63 deliveries in the chase.

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Fleming said the Stars dressing room was full of "players... that are absolutely buzzing by what's occurred".

Wright struggled to adequately convey his reaction to having played in front of such a large crowd, which smashed the previous BBL record of 52,633 set last year at Adelaide Oval.

"What can you say? It's just unbelievable. You look around and you pinch yourself," said Wright, who has over 100 limited-overs caps for England.

"We had a feeling it was going to be big tonight, but obviously not that big – and [in] a derby . . . it's probably one of the best cricketing moments I've had in my life."

Bowling all-rounder John Hastings, who claimed 4-29 on his return from injury, was similarly chuffed.

"It's the biggest crowd I've ever played in [front of]. It's probably the biggest crowd I've been to, apart from an AFL grand final," he said

"I've been to a couple of Boxing Day Tests and this is right up there, no doubt. I'm speechless."

Fleming marvelled at how the Stars had benefited from such parochial support. He predicted the implications would not be limited to the BBL.

"To have [almost] 81,000 at a domestic match [outside of India] will send absolute shockwaves through the cricketing world. It's just where Twenty20 sits," he said.

"There's been a lot of talk about different formats of the game, but when you're... breaking records every game it's sending a very strong message that I'm sure a lot of people will be taking notice of and looking to plot the future."

Team P W L NR T Pts NRR
Perth Scorchers 4 3 1 - - 6 1.147
Sydney Thunder 4 3 1 - - 6 0.723
Adelaide Strikers 4 3 1 - - 6 0.058
Hobart Hurricanes 4 3 1 - - 6 -0.613
Melbourne Stars 4 2 2 - - 4 0.052
Sydney Sixers 6 2 4 - - 4 0.016
Melbourne Renegades 4 1 3 - - 2 -0.332
Brisbane Heat 4 - 4 - - 0 -1.107

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