Ashes Diary: Johnson pure box office for Boxing Day

Thank you, Mitchell Johnson. Not my words but those of Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide. Well, not his words, exactly, but that's undoubtedly what he's thinking after Johnson's brilliant spell in Perth rescued the MCG from the prospect of a moderate Boxing Day crowd. That looked very possible before Australia's win in the third Test, when one Melbourne newspaper ran an online poll asking respondents if they would bother going to the Test should England have wrapped up the Ashes by then. Most responded in the negative.

All that has changed. Indeed, a record crowd could be in the offing if Dodemaide is to be believed. "We knew that day one would be very strong, the ticket sales have indicated ... a plus-80,000 crowd," he said. "But we will now do all we can to ensure that all seats that are available are taken. I think the high eighties, perhaps even up to 90,000, will certainly be a chance. I expect now that in the next week the interest will rise even further and be at fever pitch by the time we bowl the first ball."

The record for a Test match at the cavernous MCG is the 90,800 that saw Australia take on West Indies in 1961. That could now be beaten. "Australia is now going in with momentum, I think it will create a lot of buzz," Dodemaide added.

Beer leaves Fawcett on tap

Four years after high-fiving Ricky Ponting in the wake of Australia's thumping win to retain the Ashes, young Western Australian Jake Fawcett went one better on the final day of the Perth Test. He was Ponting's replacement after the Tasmanian decided not to field, having injured a finger.

Fawcett, a 20-year-old all-rounder, was more than happy to carry the drinks once 12th man Michael Beer left to play for WA in Tasmania. "I was a bit nervous early on but as soon as I got my first touch and threw it into Haddin's gloves, the nerves dropped and I just enjoyed the experience," Fawcett said.

Hauritz hits form with a straight bat

England might expect to have the advantage at spin-friendly Sydney, which will host the fifth Test. But not so fast. Australia's one spinner of undoubted quality, Nathan Hauritz, may have been inexplicably overlooked thus far, but his form means he must come into contention for the last two matches. It's not his bowling that's attracting headlines, but his batting. He hit his second straight Sheffield Shield ton yesterday before picking up a wicket. Not that he expects to don the Baggy Green soon. "A Test recall is always in the back of your mind but I don't even see me being looked at," Hauritz said.

It's all or nothing in see-saw series

Yesterday's capitulation by England continued an interesting Ashes trend. The last two series have seen either thumping victories or draws, with Lord's in 2009 the closest non-draw (England won by 115 runs). The last time Australia gave England a thumping – Headingley 2009 – Andrew Strauss's men struck back immediately, winning by a lot at The Oval. The difference this time is that the Aussies are the home side and England cannot expect a pitch at the MCG entirely to their liking. Indeed, it looks like a bouncier, faster surface is being prepared than that on which England faced Victoria recently.

Suggested Topics
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat