West Indies great Brian Lara will join Australia’s legendary top three of Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting in a dream batting line-up for Sunday’s Bushfire Cricket Bash in Melbourne.
The final XIs have been announced for Sunday’s rescheduled charity game at Junction Oval, which will raise funds for communities affected by Australia’s recent bushfire disaster.
The Ponting XI will feature a star-studded top order of Langer, Hayden and Ponting, who scored thousands of runs in Australia’s Test side during their decorated careers.
Following that legendary trio in the Ponting XI will be Australian women’s player Elyse Villani, Windies icon Lara and teenage sensation Phoebe Litchfield, who rose to prominence in this season’s Rebel WBBL.
Legendary quicks Wasim Akram and Brett Lee as well as Brad Haddin, Dan Christian and Australian Rules football great Luke Hodge round out the Ponting XI, which will be coached by Indian great Sachin Tendulkar.
They will take on a Gilchrist XI that boasts a powerful top order as well featuring the legendary opener Gilchrist, former Australia stars Shane Watson and Brad Hodge and Indian great Yuvraj Singh.
Former Australia captain Alex Blackwell will bat at No.5 in that side followed by two-time World Cup winner Andrew Symonds, Windies legend Courtney Walsh, AFL great Nick Riewoldt, recently-retired Australia fast bowler Peter Siddle and leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed. Australia’s Test skipper Tim Paine has been named coach.
Two more names will be added to the Gilchrist XI over the coming days, with the late rescheduling of the match forcing some players to drop out.
Ponting and Lara hit the MCG nets on Thursday afternoon, turning back the clock to provide a sneak peek of what’s to come on Sunday.
The forecast of record-breaking rainfall in Sydney this weekend has seen the match rescheduled from Saturday afternoon at the SCG to Sunday at Junction Oval as part of a double-header with the CommBank women’s T20 tri-series match between Australia and England.
The change of schedule has meant Shane Warne, who was due to captain one of the sides, has been ruled out due to a prior commitment with the Mandela Foundation in Cape Town. Former Australia players Steve Waugh, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey, women’s players Holly Ferling and Grace Harris and rugby league great Brad Fittler are also now unavailable due to the change of date.
CA made the decision to reschedule the Bushfire Bash 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 despite the forecast wet weather.
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.
Fans in Australia can watch the Bushfire Cricket Bash live on Foxtel, Channel7, Kayo Sports, cricket.com.au and the CA Live app.
Ponting XI: Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting (c), Elyse Villani, Brian Lara, Phoebe Litchfield, Brad Haddin (wk), Brett Lee, Wasim Akram, Dan Christian, Luke Hodge. Coach: Sachin Tendulkar
Gilchrist XI: Adam Gilchrist (c & wk), Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Yuvraj Singh, Alex Blackwell, Andrew Symonds, Courtney Walsh, Nick Riewoldt, Peter Siddle, Fawad Ahmed (one more to be announced). Coach: Tim Paine