Record-setting MCG crowd on hand for Cricket World Cup final

March 29, 2015

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) The World Cup came to an end in a carnival atmosphere as supporters for co-hosts Australia and New Zealand made up a raucous, record crowd for the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 93,013 fans who packed into the famous arena on Sunday set an Australian attendance record, eclipsing the previous mark of 91,112 for a day of cricket set at the MCG in 2013.

The International Cricket Council said the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was the most popular in the tournament's 40-year history, with the overall attendance reaching 1,016,421 for 49 matches.

While green and gold were the dominant colors at the MCG, there were also plenty of black caps and shirts keeping off the Melbourne sun. There was also the odd Crocodile Hunter, ballerina and kangaroo.

A significant number of Indian fans in their blue team colors joined the celebration despite Mahendra Singh Dhoni's squad missing the final after a semifinal loss to Australia on Thursday.

Despite their proximity, Australia and New Zealand have rarely met recently on the cricket pitch, with their previous ODI in Melbourne six years ago.

At least one ticket-holder missed the match after a Melbourne man protesting against the Australian government's refugee policy was arrested while running onto the pitch before the start of the final.

The man, who was wearing a cape bearing the slogan ''End Offshore Detention,'' was tackled to the ground and carried from the field. He is expected to be charged over the incident. Victoria state police said the same man ran onto the field during Australia's opening match against England last month.

The final ended on a sour note for some, at least for bowling great-turned commentator Shane Warne, who attracted a flood of criticism on social media for his apparent obsession with Australia's celebratory drinking binge.

Speaking with Australian players on-air after the match, Warne first asked wicketkeeper Brad Haddin ''are you feeling thirsty?'' before confronting Steve Smith with: ''Are you going to have a bit of a drink tonight too Smitty?''

Shane Watson, Josh Hazlewood and coach Darren Lehman were all asked what their party plans were for the evening.

Twitter was soon awash with posts from fans condemning the former test legspinner.

The Australian team can't afford a hangover, with a public event planned in central Melbourne for Monday morning.

The squad is due on stage at Federation Square with the Cricket World Cup trophy before signing autographs and meeting with fans.

The public celebration is the team's opportunity to show thanks to the Australian public, which came out in force throughout the World Cup.

''It's been an amazing turnout,'' Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc said. ''The support from the public and the crowd here tonight has been fantastic.''

Australian captain Michael Clarke added: ''For the support we've had, thanks to every Australian.''

Just over an hour after the match, while cleaning staffed vacuumed golden confetti from the MCG outfield, the ground staff was busy working on the wicket square.

The MCG has adopted drop in pitches to accommodate the needs of Australian rules football, which shares the ground.

An Australian Football League preseason match is scheduled for Thursday.