The Bushfire Cricket Bash charity match will be played this Sunday, February 9, at Melbourne’s Junction Oval in a double-header with the Australia v England CommBank Tri-Series clash, it was confirmed today.
Sydney’s forecast wet weather prompted Cricket Australia to reschedule the game to ensure the best possible pitch and outfield conditions are available for the KFC BBL|09 Final, which will remain as scheduled in Sydney on Saturday night.
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Adam Gilchrist takes over the captaincy from Shane Warne, who has prior commitments that have ruled him out of featuring in the game.
Ricky Ponting will remain captain with the match proceeding as a T10 game with the likes of Indian superstars Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, West Indian legends Brian Lara and Courtney Walsh, Pakistan left-arm sensation Wasim Akram, and past Australian greats Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson all still set to be involved.
The Big Appeal
Saturday February 8
CommBank T20I – Australia v India @ Junction Oval, 12.10pm AEDT
KFC BBL|09 Final – Sydney Sixers v TBC @ SCG, 7.15pm AEDT
Sunday February 9
CommBank T20I – Australia v England @ Junction Oval, 11.40am AEDT
Bushfire Cricket Bash – Ponting XI v Gilchrist XI @ Junction Oval, 3.15pm AEDT
*All matches broadcast live on Foxtel, Seven Network and Kayo Sports
Sadly, the reschedule means former Australia captain Michael Clarke and batsman Michael Hussey as well as a number of the female stars who had been set to play join Warne in being unable to play due to prior commitments.
India legend Tendulkar will attend as coach of the Ponting XI while Australia Test captain Tim Paine will coach the Gilchrist XI. Windies great Walsh was set to coach Warne’s XI but has stepped up to put on the spikes again.
Mel Jones and rugby league immortal Andrew Johns will join in activities in a non-playing capacity.
The playing XIs for the match are set to be picked on-air during the innings break of tonight’s broadcast of the Challenger Final between the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder by captains Ponting and Gilchrist.
The weather forecast of blanketing rainfall across much of the eastern seaboard this weekend has delighted firefighters given the catastrophic bushfire conditions the country has endured this summer.
The logistical nightmare of rescheduling a cricket match pales in comparison, but the desire to maximise fundraising for affected communities will see the match proceed.
With a number of the Bushfire Bash players also holding commentary positions with Fox Cricket and the Seven Network, it was not possible to move the match to Melbourne and keep it on the Saturday afternoon.
And with broadcasters already committed to screening the CommBank Tri-Series between Australia, England and India from Junction Oval, with games at the venue Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the MCG was ruled out as a possible venue.
Sixers and Australia star Steve Smith backed the decision to reschedule the Bushfire Bash.
“I think it’s a wise move to postpone or move the bushfire relief game, we don’t need people playing on the wicket before the Big Bash final,” Smith said.
“If it’s going to be raining and things like that, it’ll make things really difficult. That’s a wise move.
“I think we’ve earned the right to host the final, the way we’ve played, and we’re hopeful this rain stays away and we can get a game in.”
The Bushfire Bash exhibition match will be a 10-overs-per-side contest, with a five-over Powerplay, no bowling restrictions, and batters unable to get out from the first ball they face.
Bowlers will not have over limits, fielders can sub on and off as it suits, while captains will have the ability to sub batters in and out during an innings.
A number of legends from Australian sport’s winter codes have also signed on for the match.
Melbourne Storm rugby league champion Cam Smith and Australian Rules footballers Luke Hodge, a four-time premiership-winning player with Hawthorn, and Nick Reiwoldt, the former St Kilda star, are all set to play.
While the charity match will now be played in Melbourne, the Saturday night in Sydney will still be a fundraising opportunity, with all match profits and funds raised at the BBL|09 Final going to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.
There is no reserve day available for the BBL Final under the current tournament playing conditions but in the event of rain interrupting or delaying play, the match can be reduced to five-overs per side contest at the very minimum to determine a winner.
However, if the match is completely washed out, the Sixers will be crowned BBL|09 champions as the hosts of the Final.
Almost 20,000 tickets were sold in just 24 hours when tickets for the proposed double-header went on sale this week, with those who purchased tickets to be contacted by Ticketek on Thursday regarding adjusted gate and match timings as well as instructions to apply for a refund if required.
Items from the rescheduled Bushfire Bash match, including signed shirts and helmets, will be put up for auction from Friday to raise more funds for the bushfire relief effort.
Current playing squad for the Bushfire Cricket Bash: Ricky Ponting (c), Adam Gilchrist (c), Brian Lara, Yuvraj Singh, Wasim Akram, Courtney Walsh, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Alex Blackwell, Dan Christian, Nick Riewoldt, Elyse Villani, Luke Hodge, Cam Smith.