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Historically low turnout on the cards in Melbourne as Head and Warner have tons of fun

A meagre crowd has trickled into the MCG to watch the final ODI of Australia’s three-match series against England, taking the gloss of magnificent hundreds by Travis Head and David Warner.

Head and Warner powered Australia to 5-355 against England after putting on the second-highest partnership in the nation’s ODI history.

Australia’s prolific pair added 269 for the opening wicket as they smashed England’s tired attack to all parts of the MCG on Tuesday.

Cricket Australia is yet to announce an official crowd but the atmosphere is only marginally better than a Sheffield Shield game with just a few thousand spectators littered throughout the grandstands for much of the Australian innings of the cavernous stadium which can seat 100,000 fans when full.

More fans came into the stadium during the course of Australia’s innings but the top level of the MCG is closed in a sign of the predicted low crowd.

The lowest attendance for an ODI at the MCG involving Australia was in 1979 when 12,077 turned up to watch the hosts against England.

When the Australians beat England in the series opener on Thursday, there was only 15,420 in attendance at the Adelaide Oval and there was a slight uptick to 16,993 at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday night.

Only three ODIs have previously been held at the MCG in November, with an average attendance for those matches just 17,993.

When ODIs at the MCG are played in December, January and February, the average crowd number rises above 40,000.

It is a dramatic drop-off from the recent Twenty20 World Cup, with 80,462 people turning out to watch England win the final against Pakistan at the MCG just nine days ago.

India and Pakistan took centre stage at the MCG in the group stage of the T20 World Cup with a bumper crowd of 90,293 in attendance.

Rain briefly stopped play during the innings with the match reduced to 48-overs a side in front of a minuscule crowd inside Australia’s biggest stadium.

Head hit 152 from 130 balls to bring up his third ODI ton and highest score in the format, making England pay for dropping him when he was on just four.

The South Australian left-hander also successfully reviewed an LBW decision after being given out in just the third over.

Warner finally ended an international century drought dating back to January 2020, blasting 106 for his 19th ODI hundred.

The pair, who only reunited at the top of the order for this series after Aaron Finch’s ODI retirement last month, fell 15 runs short of breaking their own record for Australia’s highest ODI partnership.

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Warner and Head put on 284 together as Australia smashed Pakistan at Adelaide Oval in January 2017.

In just 13 innings, Warner and Head have scored 1075 runs as an ODI partnership at an average of 89.58.

After the openers were both dismissed in the 39th over, powerful allrounder Mitchell Marsh (30) and in-form star Steve Smith (21) continued on the good work with quick-fire knocks.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 22: Travis Head of Australia bats during game three of the One Day International series between Australia and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground on November 22, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Graham Denholm – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Australia entered the match 2-0 up after comfortably winning games in Adelaide and Sydney, taking down the under-strength reigning ODI and T20 World Cup champions.

England captain Jos Buttler, who held the T20 World Cup trophy aloft at the MCG in front of 80,462 just nine days ago, continued his horror ODI series by fielding after winning the toss, only to watch Australia’s batters dominate.

After resting from Saturday’s game, Pat Cummins has returned to captain Australia following fellow fast bowler Josh Hazlewood’s surprise elevation to skipper for that match.

Mitchell Starc has stayed home to rest in Sydney ahead of a busy Test summer as all-rounder Sean Abbott makes his first appearance of the series.

England made two changes, with Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali making way and Buttler coming back in after resting on Saturday.

Ali was reinstated midway through the Australian innings when Phil Salt was ruled out for the rest of the match under the concussion protocols after hitting his head while trying to save a boundary.

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