A crowd of just 53,389 has watched Australia thump the West Indies on day one of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Morning showers provided a great deal more resistance than the tourists as Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja cracked commanding centuries for Australia on Boxing Day.
The hosts were 3-345 at stumps as Burns and Khawaja shared a 258-run stand to make a mockery of Jason Holder’s decision to send the home side in at the MCG on Saturday.
But the sparse crowd generated plenty of discussion, and was the lowest Boxing Day crowd since 1999 – when rain washed out the first day against India.
Many expressed surprise when the official crowd was revealed as being in excess of 50,000.
Total crowd: 53,389. Security guards: 51,389. #AusvWI
— Geoff Lemon Sport (@GeoffLemonSport) December 26, 2015
The record Boxing Day crowd was 91,112 set in a ‘dead rubber’ against England two years ago.
The first hour of play on Saturday was lost because of heavy rain.
Burns fell to part-time offspinner Kraigg Brathwaite on 128 while Khawaja was caught behind on 144, having been dropped on 142 when Marlon Samuels put down a regulation catch in the covers.
“It just sums up the day for the West Indies,” Nine Network commentator Shane Warne said of the chance.
“He just wasn’t concentrating.”
Steve Smith will resume on 32 on Sunday with thoughts of another declaration likely to be at the back of his mind.
Australia hold a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series, having thumped the visitors by an innings and 212 runs in Hobart.
Predictions of another lopsided contest look set to be proven true.
At Bellerive, Australia at least slipped to 3-121 prior to amassing 4(dec)-583 in their only innings.
In Melbourne, David Warner’s slapdash dismissal on 23 was the only moment of early joy for the tourists.
Warner set the tone for the day, with Kemar Roach dragged out of the attack after the pugnacious opener hammered 15 runs off his first over.
Australia’s run rate dipped after Samuels held a juggling catch to dismiss Warner.
However, Burns and Khawaja were able to ease their way into proceedings.
Jerome Taylor handed them a bonus run in the morning session, opting to casually stop the ball with his foot at fine leg.
The visitors weren’t quite as sloppy as they were in the first Test but Khawaja tellingly brought up his ton by scampering through for a single after a misfield.
Burns reached three figures in the same over, showing why he was retained in the XI ahead of Shaun Marsh.
The heavy outfield made it difficult to strike boundaries but Burns and Khawaja pounced on anything loose or short and used the pull shot effectively and regularly.
Left-arm tweaker Jomel Warrican wasn’t called into the attack until the 42nd over, at which point Australia were 1-160 and very much in control of the contest.
Holder finished the second session with spin from both ends.
The skipper was fined for slow over-rates in Hobart and will be suspended if he re-offends.
The MCG pitch had more than a green tinge to it when the covers were peeled off in the morning, prompting Holder to bowl first.
It’s a decision he will almost certainly regret.
Burns was on 24 when a thick edge dropped well short of Darren Bravo at first slip, while he was 118 when a top edge fell short of Bravo at third man.
It was the closest the visitors came to breaking the second-wicket stand, Australia’s best at the venue since 1968, until the opener was stumped in the 74th over.
– with AAP