Aussie legends to clash in bushfire charity blockbuster
Cricket Australia have announced a one-off charity match to raise funds for the bushfire appeal, featuring two celebrity-filled teams captained by cricket legends Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne.
The exhibition match, labelled the "Bushfire Cricket Bash", will serve as a curtain raiser for the BBL Final on Saturday, February 8th, with multiple sporting heroes and other big names expected to take part.
Profits from the charity match will be donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery.
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Speaking at the MCG on Sunday, Warne and Ponting confirmed cricket legends Alex Blackwell, Michael Clarke, Justin Langer, Shane Watson, Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee had already agreed to feature in the highly-anticipated match.
Former Australian captain Steve Waugh and CA Board member Mel Jones will also be involved in a non-playing capacity.
"Everyone has come together; everyone is trying to do their bit. The images that we've seen have touched people around the world," Warne said.
"It's great that Cricket Australia have got behind this and are pulling it together quite quickly."
Warne confirmed a wide variety of celebrities will take part, including household names from Australian film, television, along with athletes from other sporting codes and women's cricketers. He also suggested AFL brothers Nick and Jack Riewoldt had shown interest in competing.
I'm going to make sure I've got all the fast bowlers on my team so I don't have to face them in the game. Brett Lee's a definite in my team https://t.co/cotbPPrtav— Ricky Ponting AO (@RickyPonting) January 12, 2020
"We're trying to put together a diverse group of people that people will identify with, and it'd be nice to see a few of these guys outside their comfort zone who think they can play," Warne said.
"Let's hope it's a really successful day."
The venue for the blockbuster charity match is yet to be confirmed, but could possibly take place at the MCG, considering the impeccable form of the Melbourne Stars, who have won seven of their eight BBL matches this season.
The second Saturday of February is proving to be a massive day for Australian cricket.
In the morning, the Australian Women's team take on the India in a T20 international at Junction Oval, followed by the "Bushfire Cricket Bash" and BBL Final.
All three matches will be shown on Channel 7 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," Cricket Australia 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."
Blackwell, who retired from professional cricket in December, said the purpose of the fixture was to recognise and support the heroic firefighters, who have battled flames throughout Australian over the past six weeks.
"It's going to be a historic day for Australian cricket, and a really powerful and enjoyable way to raise much-needed funds and awareness through this very challenging time in Australian history," Blackwell.
Ponting is adamant the charity match will be an entertaining fixture with a mammoth crowd expected, and will be reminiscent to the World Cricket Tsumani Appeal match in 2005.
"I'm really looking forward to the game. As soon as I got the call from (Kevin) Roberts, I couldn't put my hand up quick enough," Ponting said.
"It is going to be a huge and special day … it's nice to be part of it."
Last week, Warne put his famous Baggy Green cap up for auction to support the bushfire. Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn secured the highest bid, worth AU$1,007,500.
Warne will present the Baggy Green to Comyn during Sunday's BBL match between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers.
Thankyou so much to everyone that placed a bid & a huge Thankyou / congrats to the successful bidder - you have blown me away with your generosity and this was way beyond my expectations ! The money will go direct to the Red Cross bushfire appeal. Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou ❤️ pic.twitter.com/vyVcA7NfGs— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) January 9, 2020
Commonwealth Bank intend to exhibit the cap in the Bradman Museum in Bowral after a national tour to raise additional funds.