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Bushfires hit close to home for White

Alex Brown

February 9, 2009

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Cameron White: "Some of the fires are pretty close to where I grew up. My mum is not far away from a couple of the fires so I am calling her a fair bit" © Getty Images
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Two wickets and a spectacular catch gave audiences the impression that Cameron White's focus had never been sharper, but the allrounder admitted his thoughts were elsewhere during Sunday's win against New Zealand. White spent much of the morning watching television coverage of the Victorian bushfires that have claimed at least 111 lives, many of them from the Gippsland region from which he hails.

White's aunt lost three friends over the weekend, and Victoria's captain remains in regular contact with his mother, who is in the vicinity of several other blazes. The harrowing tales of loss and scenes of devastation prompted him, along with James Hopes, to request black armbands be worn by players at the SCG in recognition of the many victims, and White said his mind was never far from those affected by bushfires described as the worst in Australia's history.

"It really hits home when you have been to a lot of the places and know what they were like before the fires, and now to see them totally destroyed in some places," White said. "I was on the internet after the game looking at the photos and reading the stories, and just thinking how lucky I am to be doing what I am doing and that my house is still standing.

"Some of the fires are pretty close to where I grew up. My mum is not far away from a couple of the fires so I am calling her a fair bit, and her sister lost three close friends over the weekend. It is awful what's happening, and everyone is grateful to all the firefighters out there who are doing their best."

White's Victoria team-mate Peter Siddle also comes from the Gippsland region, and it is understood his brothers have also lost friends. Siddle will join the one-day squad in Adelaide on Monday, and is favoured to play the final two matches against New Zealand.

Cricket Australia, in conjunction with Channel Nine and the Commonwealth Bank, will stage a bushfire appeal to coincide with the one-day international in Adelaide on Tuesday. The Australian squad will donate their match fees of A$67,000.

White said the move had the full support of the Australian players, and hoped the funds would help. "We have all been following it pretty closely; we had the TV on in the dressing room," White said. "[The bushfire appeal] is a great cause, and it is always good when cricket can reach out and help in that sort of way."

Cricket Victoria will on Monday hold discussions as to how it might help in the relief effort. Exhibition matches, equipment donations and an appeal surrounding the FR Cup final - should they host the game - are among the moves under consideration.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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