A world record Test match crowd of more than 91,000 spectators is still expected to roll up to the MCG on Boxing Day in the wake of the car attack on Flinders Street on Thursday that has left 12 people in hospital.
Three of those victims remain in a critical condition, while Victoria Police continue to investigate the incident in which a four-wheel drive was driven into a crowd of pedestrians. Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, outlined plans for an increased police presence at major events in Melbourne over the holiday period, including on Boxing Day.
“People across Victoria will already have noticed an increased police presence and that will continue to grow in coming days all the way through to New Year’s Eve fireworks and the other important festivities,” Andrews said. “There will be more Victoria Police at things like the Big Bash, the soccer on at AAMI, the Boxing Day Test, Carols by Candlelight, all the way through to New Year’s Eve next week.
“This is always a very busy time of year. Victoria Police have the resources and have the resolve to do everything that needs to be done to keep the community safe. If it takes a bit longer to get your bag searched, that’s being done for your safety and I would ask that you are patient, that you are as cooperative as you possibly can be and that you remain vigilant.
“If you see something that you don’t think is right, speak to one of the many members of Victoria Police that will be out and about over this really busy period.”
Nevertheless James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said that he remained hopeful of a world record day one attendance for the fourth Test of the Ashes series. “I think we’re in good hands,” Sutherland said. “You’ve heard from the Premier and from Stephen [Leane, assistant commissioner] from Victoria Police that it’s really business as usual. A very calm approach comes from the great experiences we have here in Victoria of hosting major events and continuing to adapt to the circumstances of the day.
“CA has great confidence in where we’re at and we share that with the MCC who are the ground managers and we look forward to a fantastic event. Four years ago here at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test match we recorded the biggest ever crowd for Test cricket, 91,000 people, and we’re hoping that with the way the weather forecast is and the way ticket sales are that we’ll see a record crowd again this year.
“From Boxing Day we know and the ensuing days are great days of Test cricket, it’s important for people to plan their day, to plan ahead, to use public transport as much as they possibly can, be aware of the parking restrictions around the ground. To get here early and plan ahead is the best advice we can give to anyone. It’s going to be warmer as the Test match goes on, so people also need to look after themselves in that regard with the extra heat.”
Sutherland said that he had been in consistent contact with the ECB in the hours after the attack as it was ascertained that no players on either side had been involved in the incident at one of Melbourne’s busiest thoroughfares. “There was always going to be a bit of concern and urgency around the time immediately after the incident happened,” he said. “But certainly our security people and the advice from police and support from police meant everyone was very calm quickly afterwards.”
Andrews said that as victims recovered from the attack, it was important for the general public to work co-operatively with police over coming days. “The good news there is that steadily, people are going home, having received the care that they need,” he said. “Last week’s events, the events in Flinders Street, they make our hearts heavy and they make us angry as well. But let’s not make things any more difficult for our emergency services by making silly choices these next few days.”