Ashes Diary: Boxing Day crowd won't beat Billy

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The Independent Online

The bean counters in Melbourne are getting more and more bullish about the prospect of a record attendance on Boxing Day. The previous best of 90,800, when West Indies took on Australia at the MCG in 1961, looks under serious threat. The Cricket Australia chief executive officer, James Sutherland, is expecting "a close to capacity crowd at the MCG on day one, hopefully breaking the world record for the highest-ever attendance at a single day of Test cricket."

Impressive, no doubt, but put into some context by the record attendance at the MCG: 130,000 to see evangelist Billy Graham in 1959. Aussie Rules has also drawn far larger crowds to the "G": more than 120,000 watched the Victoria Football League final there in 1970.

Heavy bombing gets Swann flying

England's injured Stuart Broad has been delayed on his return from Australia. "12 hour wait in Singapore airport," he tweeted. "This is why, 'Football Manager' was created! I'll have Forest in the Champions League before I leave." Now that's the sort of positive thinking England could do with – unlike Graeme Swann's response. "Stuck in Singapore airport?" he asks. "Find an able soul, head to the bar, and then drink jagerbombs. 12 hours will seem like 20 mins."

Pietersen clawed by 'pussycat' jibe

Looks like the hubris that affected England supporters in the aftermath of the second Test may have descended on Australia. Will Swanton, writing in the Melbourne Herald Sun, has compiled a list of 10 reasons why Australia will win the Ashes. It's all good knockabout stuff, but the England team might not agree, in particular one South African-accented gentleman. "Beneath the impressive physical exterior, Pietersen is a pussycat. Australia put heat on him in Perth and he melted," writes Swanton.

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