Cricket legends Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting will come out of retirement for a star-studded charity game early next month that will raise money for victims of Australia’s devastating bushfires.
Cricket Australia today announced a range of initiatives to help those impacted by the fires, with the headline act to be the Bushfire Cricket Bash on February 8, where Warne and Ponting will captain the two sides.
Retired stars Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Justin Langer, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Alex Blackwell will also take part, while former men’s Test and ODI skipper Steve Waugh and former Australian women’s player Mel Jones will also be involved in a non-playing capacity.
The Bushfire Cricket Bash will form part of a blockbuster Saturday triple-header of cricket on February 8 alongside a women’s T20 international between Australia and India at Junction Oval in Melbourne and the men’s KFC BBL Final.
Cricket’s triple-header for Bushfire Relief
Saturday February 8
Match 1: Commonwealth Bank Women’s Tri-Series T20I, Australia v India, Junction Oval, Melbourne
Match 2: Bushfire Cricket Bash, Ponting XI v Warne XI (venue TBC)
Match 3: KFC Big Bash League Final, TBC v TBC (venue TBC)
There will be fundraising initiatives across all three matches and all money raised will be donated to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.
The Bushfire Cricket Bash will be played in the afternoon and act as a curtain raiser for the BBL Final. Consequently, the venue won’t be determined until January 31 when the host of the BBL final is decided.
All three games will be broadcast around Australia on both the Seven Network and Fox Cricket.
“The Bushfire Cricket Bash will be Cricket Australia’s major fundraising initiative to support Australians impacted by the recent unprecedented bushfire emergency,” CA’s CEO Kevin Roberts said in a statement.
“People the world over have seen the overwhelming images of hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt, precious lives lost, hundreds of properties destroyed and the devastating loss of wildlife as a result of the fires. These images have reinforced the need to get behind organisations like the Australian Red Cross which is responding to the immediate requirements of people who have lost loved ones, their homes, and their livelihoods.”
Warne has already made a significant contribution to help bushfire victims with his treasured Baggy Green cap fetching more than $1 million in an auction last week, with all money going to the Red Cross fund.
CA has also today injected $2 million into a fund to assist community cricket clubs impacted by the fires, and confirmed the Gillette ODI Series between Australia and New Zealand in March will be dedicated to volunteers and emergency services workers.
Cricket has a long history of organising charity games to raise money for victims of significant natural disasters, most recently with the World XI v Asia XI game at the MCG following the Asian tsunami in 2004. Almost 80,000 fans packed into the MCG on that occasion to watch the likes of Ponting, Warne, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Muttiah Muralidaran in a match that was granted official ODI status.
CA today also announced funding for each of its staff to take three paid days of leave to volunteer and help those in affected communities, which represents more than 4000 days of assistance.
“While the financial support of rebuilding is without doubt one of the best ways to contribute, we know the recovery efforts will take months beyond the fires being managed and we want to do what we can to support these communities,” Roberts said.
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