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Sydney BBL derby set to smash domestic record as Test crowds dwindle

The Sydney Sixers are expecting to smash the SCG domestic crowd record and potentially welcome up to 42,000 fans through the turnstiles at their next Sydney derby as Big Bash League fever grips the country.

There have been 15,750 tickets already sold – 5000 more than last season's match, which attracted 36,487 people – two weeks out from the Sydney derby between the Sixers and Thunder on January 16.

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Judging by the 32,128 who turned up to a rain-affected day one in Sydney, the Sixers' four home Big Bash games are set to attract more people overall than the SCG Test itself. 

As the dust settles in the wake of 80,883 fans cramming into the MCG on Saturday evening, Sydney Sixers general manager Dom Remond said ticket sales were "phenomenal" and on track to break all records, providing members showed up. 

Got him, yes: Thunder all-rounder Shane Watson celebrates dismissing Sixers batsman Trent Lawford during the Big Bash ...
Got him, yes: Thunder all-rounder Shane Watson celebrates dismissing Sixers batsman Trent Lawford during the Big Bash League match at Spotless Stadium on December 17. Photo: Getty Images

So keen are the Sixers to make the fixture a sell-out, they are buying back corporate hospitality tickets – normally given to members from the SCG Trust – and selling them as premium seating in a bid to increase the number of tickets on sale to the public. 

At this rate, Remond said he expected more than 40,000 people to attend what looks set to be the biggest domestic cricket match this state has seen. "At the moment it [sales] are flying," Remond said. "It's 5000 tickets ahead of where we were at the same time [last year] which is quite phenomenal, so we're very confident it will be sold out and it might even be sold out before the game. To hit over the 40,000 mark we really need about 10,000 Trust members to show up." 

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By comparison, the Sydney Swans have only twice had more than 42,000 people attend a game at SCG, the most recent being in 1997 during the Tony Lockett era. The 36,487 in attendance at last season's Sydney derby is the largest domestic crowd at the SCG – a game remembered for Jordan Silk's late heroics that steered the Sixers to a thrilling last-over victory.  

In a sign of how just popular the domestic T20 format is, more people have attended Big Bash games than Tests this summer as cricket officials predict more record domestic crowds for the remainder of the summer. 

Last Sunday, 29,104 people watched the Stars do battle with the men in magenta, while the week before against Hobart, 20,072 made their way to the SCG. 

The fact there were 34,402 more fans than ever before at a domestic game at the MCG – to watch both Melbourne sides do battle – shows just how prolific this season has been for cricket in terms of bums on seats.

BBL manager Anthony Everard said there was no reason why the surge of crowds in Melbourne could not be mirrored north of the border.

"Its not something that we see as unique to Melbourne," Everard said. "It went bigger than we thought it might. There's no reason why that shouldn't translate to Sydney. There is a venue constraint in terms of the size and capacity of the SCG, but we're delighted with the form of the Sydney teams and there's no reason why that shouldn't continue. We have high expectations for the rest of the season, that's for sure." 

The poor weather could not have come at a worse time for Test cricket. The SCG crowd was close to what was predicted by the Trust and ranks sixth out the last 10 Tests in terms of day one figures. 

BBL television ratings have been equally as impressive. An average of 1.05 million tuned in for the end of the men's game, but it was figures for the WBBL game beforehand that surprised many. 

An average of 372,000 people watched Meg Lanning's Stars take on the Renegades, while the fixture rated number one for its timeslot across all channels – a huge win for women's sport in this country. There were also 12,901 people in attendance at the game.  

"It's not something we have expected and yes, it does blow our minds," Everard said of the ratings. "Anytime you try something for the first time you're not really sure what to expect. That was a phenomenal number yesterday, it's quite an eye-opener and I think it gives us an enormous amount to think about moving forward." 

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