More than 80,000 fans packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday in the largest single-day crowd for a Test match between the two nations, and one of the biggest against any country.

The Boxing Day Test is the highlight of the cricket calendar in Australia and routinely attracts throngs of spectators, with the 91,112 who watched England in 2013 the record.

The 80,473 who attended on Thursday was second biggest for a non-Ashes fixture on Boxing Day, behind only the 85,661 who witnessed Australia play the West Indies in 1975.

New Zealand is playing its first Boxing Day Test in Australia since 1987 and Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts said the huge crowd pointed to the popularity of the sport in both countries.

“Thanks so much to the Australian and New Zealand fans who made history at the MCG today,” he said.

“The atmosphere was brilliant from ball one and reflective of the great rivalry between our two nations on the field, and the close relationship we have off it.”

The previous day one record for an Australia-New Zealand Test in Melbourne was 51,087.