There’s exactly a year to go for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and at the celebratory event on Friday, 8 March, the excitement was palpable and marked with a Guinness World Record.
A total of 1,033 signatures on the Big Shirt was officially recognised as the most signatures on a piece of sporting memorabilia. That the record was made on International Women’s Day was fitting.
There was no better way to mark the one-year-to-go event, given another record that is being aimed for is to have 90,000-plus spectators for the Women’s T20 World Cup final – it would be the highest audience for any women’s sport.
Meg Lanning was there, along with Martin Pakula, Victoria's Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, and elite female athletes from other sports. The Australia captain believes having an arena as large as the MCG packed for the women’s final could be a “massive turning point”.
“It could be a massive turning point, I think. Women’s sport has been growing for the last five-ten years, and cricket’s been leading the way in that,” said Lanning. “To have the ambition to get 93,000-plus people to the MCG and to actually pull that off will be massive. Hopefully, it’ll just be the start of things.
“If we can pull that off, it’ll be incredible. You come here to watch NFL games, where there’s 100,000 people, you think how amazing it is. If we’re going to be playing in the middle with hopefully 100,000 fans, all hopefully cheering for us, it’ll be something special.
Pressure comes with being the hosts at a #T20WorldCup, but Australia's @EllysePerry got some advice from the likes of @sachin_rt, @CathyFreeman and Pelé to name a few as she prepares for 2020. #IWD19 #Legends pic.twitter.com/AEaj22Wtir— ICC T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) March 8, 2019
“Hopefully, Australia can do well in that tournament, get to that final in the first place, and if there’s a big crowd, it’ll make it extra special.”
However, it’s a home World Cup, and playing in front of as big a crowd comes with a lot of pressure. “There’s always pressure at World Cups,” Lanning said. “We’ve a very good record at World Cups, so we’ve been able to deal with that in the past.
“[A] home World Cup is something totally new that we’ve not experienced before, so we’ve to make sure we’re totally prepared for that. There’s always pressure from inside and outside, and this World Cup is going to be no different.”
The Women’s T20 World Cup will run from 21 February to 8 March.