‘Absolutely insane’: Stunning Cup chaos
Australia have claimed a fifth women's T20 World Cup title after demolishing India at the MCG.
But while it's an incredible feat, what was just as important as the result - if not more so - was the undeniable fact the occasion itself proved to be one of the most memorable in women's sport in Australia and, for that matter, anywhere in the world.
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Following in the footsteps of the women's Football World Cup in the US in 1999 where 90,185 fans turned out, the call was early from organisers to break the world record for the biggest crowd at a women's sporting event.
It was long believed that Australia would need to be in the final to draw a huge crowd and the home team did things the hard way, only making it through to the decider after a dramatic, rain-affected semi-final win over South Africa at the SCG.
Sceptics still wondered whether the cavernous MCG would be packed out.
But the Australian public more than answered the call, pouring into the ground with only a sprinkling of empty seats in the massive stadium.
While the crowd wasn't able to set a new world record, it was a new Australian record at a women's sporting event with 86,174 the official attendance and an electric atmosphere seemingly ushering in the new era for women's sport in this country.
With the likes of the AFLW, NRLW, the incredible success of the Matildas, the Australian netball team and the continuing domination of the Australian women cricketers, it's a new world for women's sport.
Former Australian cricketer Mel Jones made a revealing comment about how much it's changed since she played.
"One of my favourite noises ever was playing at the MCG, hitting a ball and you could hear it echo because there was no one watching," she said. "Now my favourite noise is the Mexican wave."
It was a mind-blowing atmosphere and a massive leap for women's sport.
Former Australian star Alex Blackwell told ABC Grandstand "it's a game changer".
"I think it sets the standard or the bar as high as possible for the next sporting event - men or women - in this country that you would fill the stadium wherever that might be," she said.
Fast bowler Megan Schutt, who took 4/18 in the final, was blown away by the attendance.
"This is absolutely insane," she said. "This is the kind of stuff you dream of as a kid and honestly I did not dream of this. They said they wanted to fill the G and they've gone and done it."
The world was blown away by the incredible scenes.
Absolute goosebumps, such an emotional and proud occasion. I’ve played an international game at the MCG in an empty stadium and never ever thought it was possible to #FILLTHEMCG for women’s sport. 80,000+ spectators!!!! And @katyperry the warm up act!!!! Is this for real?! 😍😲 https://t.co/djTLUauYsz— Susie Rowe (@susierowe6) March 8, 2020
Record tumbles 86,174 fans at @mcg make Australian history w biggest attendance for standalone women’s sporting event 🎉👏🎉👏🎉🏏🏏🏏— sam mostyn (@sammostyn) March 8, 2020
Incredible atmosphere for #INDvsAUS #iwd2020 @AusWomenCricket @T20WorldCup #T20worldcup #womeninsport @minerva_network pic.twitter.com/mUPwkWFl82
It's a great day for women's cricket. Fantastic spectacle at the #MCG. Pity this match is so one-sided #T20WorldCup2020 #INDvsAUS #AUSvIND but great for the Healy/Starc camp, undoubtedly player of the match.— Ian Pont (@Ponty100mph) March 8, 2020
20 years ago as a junior cricketer I remember being excited when an Aussie women’s game was actually on tv. Now to see this champion team on their way to a #T20WorldCup win in front of an almost packed MCG, and probably a big tv audience, makes me so happy.— Shana Morgan (@shana_morgan) March 8, 2020
Len Hutton once said women playing cricket was absurd, “just like a man trying to knit”. I hope Len is looking down on the MCG tonight, knocking up a cardigan or something. #T20WorldCup— Brydon Coverdale (@brydoncoverdale) March 8, 2020
The crowd was on hand to see Australia defend its title and claim a fifth T20 World Cup crown after thrashing India by 85 runs.
Alyssa Healy belted 75 off 39 balls as she set a a record for the fastest falf-century in men's or women's ICC tournament finals, reaching 50 off just 30 deliveries.
The fans rejoiced as Healy struck seven fours and five sixes, following a pre-game show headed by global superstar Katy Perry.
Healy and Beth Mooney (78 not out from 54 deliveries) shared an opening stand of 115 in Australia's total of 4/184, a record score for a women's T20 final.
In reply, India suffered at the hands of Australia's sharp fielding, losing four early wickets for 30 in a total of 99 in 19.1 overs.
- with AP