Jessica Craven FANS packed the MCG for one of the most anticipated days of Test cricket in years and were then forced to endure one of Australias most embarrasing performances. The crowd fell short of the record, but Melbourne still turned out a bumper welcome despite dismal weather and a cricket team to match. The less-than-expected crowd of 84,345 - 6500 short of the attendance record - was blamed on members who failed to show, prompting fresh calls for an overhaul of ticketing procedures. Australia lost four wickets in the first session before rain forced an early lunch. After that it got worse - all out for 98 and a deficit at the close of play of 59. The score was the lowest ever against England in 54 Tests at the MCG, and one of the worst Aussie Ashes innings in memory. Englands openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook then continued the theme, gliding past Australias total without loss, finishing the day at 0-157. But, despite Australias poor showing, the crowd number thrilled purists whove watched on in recent years as the games long form took a back seat to one-day games and the cheap thrills of Twenty20. Crowds began milling around the MCG as early as 7am, many draped in flags or with their faces painted in national colours. By the time the first ball was bowled, it was hard to find a spot even in standing areas. Ben Peresford, 25, from Ascot Vale, was at the match with four of his mates and their mood was buoyant. Theres no better ground, no better place for cricket than the MCG, he said. Ive seen cricket all over Australia and England, and nothing compares to the atmosphere or excitement of the Boxing Day Test because Melbourne people are sporting people. Theres four blokes in the next bay dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - thats Melbourne for you. I also reckon you enjoy the day more because Melbourne is used to hosting big sporting events so everything runs smoothly. Theres no little niggles to irritate you. Many spectators donned costumes, and the Australian supporters battled it out through chants with England supporters, many of whom had spent thousands of dollars to visit Australia for the entire tour. England team fan Patrick OSullivan flew in from London yesterday morning and headed straight for the MCG. I dont know why we keep winning, he said. Its more about the Aussies playing badly than us playing well, I think. The MCG is a wonderful stadium. When you look out and you can see 100,000 people looking back at you, its something pretty special. Its the best place in the world to see a cricket match. Luke Short, from Broadmeadows, was despairing over Australias first-day performance. They need to take a good hard look at themselves, he said. I came here all pumped and excited and I was depressed about 45 minutes in. To come here on the most famous cricket day of the year and for the Aussies to get walloped so badly, its just such a downer. Just 54 people were evicted from the MCG; five of them were arrested for being drunk and one for drug possession. Police evicted more than 110 people from the ground at last years Boxing Day Test. The crowd behaved exceptionally well this year and its a credit to the organisers and the fans, Acting Supt Paul Pottage said. Police have always encouraged people to attend and have a good time, but to be mindful that their behaviour doesnt affect other people attending the match. I think we were able to achieve that this year.