Cricket Australia is expecting a Barmy Army like turnout on Boxing Day by New Zealand fans desperate to see their side become just the second team in history to win a series on these shores.
There are hopes the Black Caps can pull the punters back through the turnstiles and invigorate an Australian summer that has lacked punch after one-sided series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
More than 75,000 – numbers usually reserved for Ashes and India series – could pack the MCG on Boxing Day.Credit:Angela Wylie
"Every second Kiwi you bump into says they're going to be in Melbourne on Boxing Day," New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said this week.
"The players feel good about it too. We've got a good Test record, it's one of the great occasions and I think our players would be confident against anyone they play."
CA are banking on a spike in numbers for the series to meet projected forecasts for the summer after the disappointing turnout in the Twenty20 internationals which preceded the Tests against Pakistan. CA chief Kevin Roberts said those crowds were about 35,000 short of what they expected.
Only 45,000 were at the Gabba Test, though numbers were affected by bushfires, while the total attendance of 91,879 in Adelaide last week was well down on that the previous year against India, who are big crowd-pullers. Both Tests, which produced innings wins for Australia, were lopsided with the result not in doubt from as early as day one.
Despite their reputation for being able to punch above their weight, the Black Caps have been shunned from Australia's two biggest cities for decades.
This Boxing Day Test will be their first at the MCG since the famous match in 1987 when No.11 Mike Whitney survived the final over against the great Richard Hadlee to secure Australia, then reeling from the effects of the rebel tour to South Africa, their first series victory in four years.
The Kiwis have not played a Test at the SCG since 1985, when a side inspired by Hadlee secured them their only series win in Australia.
Kane Williamson's men, who were cruelly denied lifting the World Cup after an epic tied final, are contending with Jeremy Coney's triumphant team of the mid 1980s as New Zealand's strongest ever side.
Over the last three years, they have been beaten only three times from 22 games, the fewest defeats of any of the major Test-playing nations.
They warmed up for this summer's marquee series by defeating England 1-0 at home.
The win was soured by injuries to pace spearhead Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, who face fitness tests on Friday.
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