Cricket Australia will unite with sponsors to raise money for victims of the bushfires that have claimed at least 126 lives across Victoria. Cricket Australia, Channel Nine and the Commonwealth Bank will appeal for donations throughout Tuesday's one-day international between Australia and New Zealand in Adelaide.
All proceeds from tickets sold from Monday will go to the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund - a charity organised by the Victorian and Australian Governments, and the Red Cross - and viewers will be asked for donations throughout the telecast on Tuesday. Commonwealth Bank will donate $1 million, as well as $100 for every run scored and $5,000 for each six during the match. CA will also contribute $100,000 to the fund, and the South Australian Cricket Association $25,000.
New Zealand Cricket too has stepped forward in making a financial donation. Each player will donate a signed series shirt to be auctioned, with the proceeds going to the bushfire relief.
"The tragic news on Saturday and Sunday shocked us all and Australian players at the Sydney game were keen to see what cricket could do to help," Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland said. "Cricket is a part of the community in all the regions affected and those regions have produced fine club, state and international players. At the end of the day, this is a national tragedy and we just want to do something to help."
The Australian players will donate their Adelaide match payments to the appeal after wearing black armbands throughout Sunday's one-day match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in acknowledgement of the victims of the deadly blazes. The armband idea was presented to team management by allrounders James Hopes and Cameron White - the latter of whom hails from the Gippsland region of Victoria, parts of which have been devastated in recent days.
Sutherland held discussions with representatives from Channel Nine and the Commonwealth Bank throughout Sunday's match in Sydney, and details of their bushfire relief fund will be released on Monday. Cricket Australia was heavily involved in the staging of the tsunami charity match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 2005, which raised $15 million for victims.
Those who watched Sunday's game on Australian television were regularly updated on the bushfire crisis, in which an estimated 750 homes have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of hectares scorched. Local authorities expect the death toll to rise in the days ahead in what John Brumby, the Victorian premier, described as "the worst day in Victoria's history."
Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, hoped his side's 32-run win over New Zealand on Sunday provided some cheer to those effected by the blazes.
"The team have done whatever they can to try and show as much support as possible," Ponting said after the victory. "I know there are a few things in the pipeline already that the team will be discussing tomorrow to see if there are any other ways that we can help out in the Adelaide game. Even today, with a great result for Australia, hopefully we have been able to put a smile on a few households around Australia."
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo