15 February 2015
More than 80,000 enjoy the #cwc15 party at the MCG
ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 gets going with a bang in Melbourne as the home fans get the result they came to see
Add the Melbourne Cricket Ground as a venue and the enthusiasm steps up a notch.
Add the Melbourne Cricket Ground as a venue and that enthusiasm steps up a notch.
Combine that with the first day of the ICC Cricket Word Cup 2015 and you have a recipe for an encounter of mammoth proportions.
The gates at the MCG did not open until 1pm for the 2.30pm match, but before 11am there were already enthusiastic cricket fans wandering around the park surrounding the stadium.
This was despite a morning which had seen torrential rain in the early hours and the sky remained a dismal grey until 11.30am, when in typical Melbourne fashion the sun broke through and those overly eager early cricket fans were forced to ditch the long sleeves and quickly hunt for hats and suntan lotion.
Throughout the morning and early afternoon, Australia and England supporters alike streamed through the Birrarung Marr fan zone from the city, out of train stations and off trams.
The home crowd had heeded Australia coach Darren Lehmann’s appeal to “Go Gold” and when the long-awaited encounter between the old rivals started, the packed MCG had a distinctly yellow hue.
Likewise, England fans were decked out in red and white, sporting face paint, flags and fancy dress.
Many of these supporters bought tickets a year ago. The build-up was long but at 2.30pm the moment finally arrived when James Anderson bowled the first delivery of the World Cup in Australia.
A nervous three overs followed as David Warner and Aaron Finch edged their way into the game, before the opening pair launched. The roar was deafening when Finch peeled off the first boundary and only got louder when Australia raced from 8-0 to 23-0 in the space of an over.
Fireworks added to the delirium every time an Australia shot reached the rope – and 41 of them did exactly that – and the fact many of those runs came courtesy of home-town heroes Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell only added to the joy for the locals.
England’s fans, likewise, presented a boisterous and vocal minority each time an Australian wicket fell.
Then, the entire stadium was united in excitement when Steven Finn produced only the eighth hat-trick in World Cup history. Perhaps Australia’s dominant position made it easier for the locals to appreciate the rare feat, but there was a sense a World Cup may also bring with it about a more powerful love for the game of cricket than an ordinary ODI might.
England players – particularly Stuart Broad – received their fair share of heckling from the Australian crowd (Australian crowds and Stuart Broad rarely get along), but the paceman was more than happy to play up to the attention by waving sweetly to the Bay 13 crowd.
The Barmy Army had little to smile about, but smile they did nonetheless, entertaining other fans with their trademark chants.
But the day belonged to the home crowd and Australia’s home World Cup campaign kicked off in exactly the manner players, coaches and supporters had dreamed of.
Each English wicket received a louder reaction than the last, but likewise the down – but certainly not out – England crowd greeted each of their team’s boundaries with joy when once the game seemed out of reach.
Whether the world’s No.1 ODI team will return to the ground on March 29 remains to be seen, but if today’s MCG match was anything to go by, this World Cup should be full of highlights – and enthusiastic fans – in all 14 cities across Australia and New Zealand.
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